CAROLINA: 3-2 (DIV) 2-1
NAWLEANS: 1-3 (DIV) 0-2
ATLANTA: 1-4 (DIV) 0-1
Sometimes you hit the road and sometimes the road hits you. Sunday's road trip to Indianapolis would qualify as the latter. The Colts, even without Addai and Harrison, were the model of efficiency. Frequent commenter t.k. sums it up the best...
The Colts just dinked & dunked the defense to hell, and the key stat of [the Colts was their ability] to complete 75% of their third-down plays shows it. 12 of 16, and the four they didn't make were followed by field goal, punt, fourth-down conversion, and field goal. We played it totally clean but even that's not enough against these guys. Aiyiyiyiyi...I'm not so sure what that last aiy... part was about but I agree with the above sentiment; the Colts with Peyton Manning are an offensive juggernaut. The Bucs secondary played well but the front four have to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback. A good number of the Bucs sacks or qb hurries have been because the secondary is blanketing receivers, not because the defensive lineman have been getting to the quarterback quickly enough. The key to the Tampa Two is the ability of the front four to get to the quarterback, something which the Bucs have struggled with this season. Gaines Adams has been a dissapointment and is clearly not ready to play in the NFL. He has all the physical skills to be a top tier defensive end but looks uncomfortable playing the position.
If the Bucs pass rush is hurting then the run game is on life support. The Bucs only chance to beat the Colts the was to establish the run, something which they failed miserably to do. The first four runs all lost yards and the Bucs finished the game with only 17 yards rushing. On the flip side the passing game was efficient (Garcia went 18 for 23) but with Michael Pittman now out 2 months the Bucs are going to be in trouble if they can't find a run game (or a runningback).
PANTHERS 16, AINTS 13
If the Bucs have any competition for the division title it will come from Carolina, although right now the Panthers don't look like much in the way of competition. I don't believe David Carr is a big step down from Jake Delhomme but at least Delhomme was on the same wave length with Steve Smith. Smith is the Panthers only offensive weapon, but he has struggled since Carr became the starter.
TENNESSEE 20, ATLANTA 13
The Falcons had a very good chance to win this game at the end but as has been their MO this season they failed to capitalize on the opporutnity. With about 2 minutes left in the game the Falcons had the ball in the red zone and couldn't score a touchdown to tie the game. Bringing in Byron Leftwich at the end was a horrible move and if I didn't know better I would have thought Petrino was trying to throw the game. On the bright side, this game gave me a lot more faith in the Bucs chances against the Titans next week.