While there's still a game in hand in the division with the Saints playing the Giants tonight we still saw plenty of our three A's during the three 1PM games around the division. Both the Falcons and Panthers managed to register wins, with the Bucs surrendering a big lead late in the game to hand Tennessee the W.
The Awesome- Roddy White
For the second straight week the Falcons' WR has re-established his footing as a premier WR in the NFL. With Julio Jones on the field White tends to get lost in the shuffle a little, but with Jones still nursing an injury he's been able to really stretch his legs.
Against the Vikings he finished with 120 yards on 10 receptions and a TD. White was exactly what the doctor ordered in beating Minnesota who didn't have a reliable CB to cover him all day. Matt Ryan can be described as a 'streaky' QB, and he's definitely someone who benefits from sure hands moving the chains. When Ryan gets in a rhythm he can be extremely difficult to stop, and that's what we saw yesterday as he completed almost 80% of his passes.
The Abysmal- Tampa Bay's 4th quarter run defense
It's widely known that the Buccaneers have struggled against the run in 2011, but never was this typified better than in the 4th quarter against the Titans. In the final quarter alone Chris Johnson ran for 66 yards on just 6 carries, averaging 11 yards per attempt. This is beyond horrible by a struggling RB who hadn't topped 5 yards in more than one game this season.
Granted, Johnson is still one of the league's best RBs but for Tampa to crumble like that in the final 15 minutes was terrible and sealed their fate on Sunday.
The Asinine- Carolina making dumb decisions on defense
Facing the beleaguered Colts should have been fairly easy, but the Panthers made it way more difficult than it ever needed to be. On three key plays on Sunday the Panthers gave up 42 yards on a terrible pass interference call, let Donald Brown run for 17 yards untouched and allowed Reggie Wayne to turn a routine reception into a 56 yard TD with terrible tackling.
These three plays are punctuated in their mediocrity when you realize that this accounted for almost 1/3rd of the Colts' offense on Sunday. The 2011 Carolina Panthers will let you beat them, provided they don't beat themselves first.