Both the Falcons and Buccaneers had bye weeks, and yet still it was a strange weekend in the NFC South. Why, you may ask? Well, for starters the division-leading Saints fell to the formerly winless St. Louis Rams 31-21. What's more, they fell to a Rams team that had A.J. Feeley as their starting quarterback. To be fair, the Rams played some inspired defense, picking him off twice and sacking him five times on the day. Blueprint for the Falcons, perhaps?
As for the Panthers, they lost yet another close one, this time 24-21 to the Vikings. Cam Newton had another great game amidst what is almost guaranteed to be a rookie of the year performance this season. But as has been the case all year, Carolina just cannot stop the run. Adrian Peterson racked up 166 yards on the ground, and rookie QB Christian Ponder threw surprisingly well.
For the Falcons, both outcomes are obviously good news. The Rams' impressive ability to stop the Brees-powered offensive machine gives this blogger hope that perhaps the Falcons can do the same in their upcoming matchup with those Saints. On the other hand, the Panthers showed that they still cannot play run defense. Falcons-Panthers round two should see lots o' Turner.
Here are the full highlights for your viewing pleasure. I would strongly suggest watching Drew Brees' sacks and/or interceptions multiple times for the full effect:
Rams vs Saints Week 8 2011 Highlights (via FreeNFLHighlights)
Vikings @ Panthers Week 8 2011 Highlights (via FreeNFLHighlights)
For more on the Falcons, head over to The Falcoholic. For the Saints: Canal Street Chronicles. For the Panthers: Cat Scratch Reader.