Three games are being played in the division this week, as the Buccaneers have mercifully reached their bye week.
The break could not come at a better time for Tampa, who followed up their Week 1 win over Carolina with three straight losses.
Over that time, the pass defense has established itself as atrocious, Josh Freeman's ability has been called into question, and first-year coach Greg Schiano has been a lightning rod for controversy.
Not exactly the rebuilding effort that was envisioned at the start of the season.
Most puzzling has been the regression of quarterback Josh Freeman.
Freeman took over as a full-time starter in 2010, and had far and away his best statistical season.
He set career marks for touchdowns (25), Passing average (7.28), and rating (95.9). In the two seasons since then, Freeman's play has precipitously declined.
Take a look at his numbers through week four against the rest of his career.YearGames StartedAttCompPctYdsAvgTDLongINTFumRAT20091015829054.51,8556.40104218659.820101629147461.43,4517.2825646595.920111534655162.83,5926.52166522574.6201246511954.67906.645654275.3
One has to wonder whether or not Freeman's performance last week against Washington is a sign of things to come, or the result of playing against the league's 31st-ranked pass defense.
Freeman's 299 yards against the Redskins accounts for 38 percent of his yards on the year, and in the three games prior, he averaged just 163 yards per game.
This season was supposed to lay the foundation for Tampa's future, with Freeman being one of the few established players on the roster.
Vincent Jackson was signed, and Doug Martin drafted, both additions were made in an effort to surround Freeman with as much talent as possible.
Yet somehow, here at the quarter point of the season, Freeman is perhaps the biggest question mark on the roster.
Tampa doesn't have many options at the position either. The only other quarterback on the active roster is Dan Orlovsky, who is best known for running out the back of his own endzone while playing for the 0-16 Lions, and was most recently seen winning of twice in five games for the Colts last year.
Second-year practice squad player Adam Weber would not seem to offer much in the way of insurance. It will be interesting to see whether or not any free agent quarterbacks make a visit to Tampa during the next week. There's always this guy.
Chargers @ Saints
Upset special! The Saints will get their first win of the year this season on Sunday. Drew Brees will surpass Johnny Unitas' record of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass if he throws a score this weekend.
Roger Goodell even popped his head out of his bunker this week to announce that he was going to allow suspended head coach Sean Payton to attend in honor of Brees' potential record.
Seriously though, the guy will have thrown a touchdown in every game for three straight seasons! Brees' would hold one of the most under appreciated passing records in the NFL, and sit atop a list that contains some pretty impressive names (bold represents an active streak):RankQuarterbackTeamConsecutive games1Johnny UnitasBaltimore Colts47 Drew BreesNew Orleans Saints473Brett FavreGreen Bay Packers36 Tom BradyNew England Patriots365Dan MarinoMiami Dolphins306Dave KriegSeattle Seahawks287Chris ChandlerAtlanta Falcons27 Peyton ManningIndianapolis Colts279Daryle LamonicaOakland Raiders2510Frank RyanCleveland Browns24 Daunte CulpepperMinnesota Vikings24
The Saints are lucky enough to be getting San Diego at home, where the crowd should be extra raucous, and would show up for this record no matter how bad the team may be playing.
The Chargers have gotten off to one of their best starts of the Norv Turner era at 3-1. San Diego has only matched that start once under Turner.
Last season following a 4-1 start, the Chargers lost their next six games, to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. The slide has to end sometime, and this game means too much to New Orleans. Saints win 38-21.
Seahawks @ Panthers
So we have to acknowledge that Seattle is 2-2, but this is really a match up of two 1-3 teams trying to salvage their seasons. Carolina, and Cam Newton in particular need to protect the ball if they hope to win.
The team is 1-12 in games where Newton had a turnover, and while Newton was turnover free last week, his third down fumble that was recovered by teammate Mike Tolbert, ended up costing his team the game.
Seattle comes to town with a brewing quarterback controversy as rookie Russel Wilson has struggled of late, and newly acquired Matt Flynn is finally healthy following a preseason elbow injury.
Early struggles for Wilson could result in Flynn getting his first reps for the Seahawks. Seattle is the only team in the league tht has more rushing yards than passing (603 to 594).
The matchup that interests me the most in this game is the coaching:
Who would you rather play for? Ron Rivera looks like he is either supremely constipated, or is about to rip off Cam's non throwing arm and beat him with it.
Carroll on the other hand has the perpetual grin of mischievous youth, and an infectious quality about him that almost makes you forget he is a twice failed NFL coach.
The Seahawks hold a definite edge on defense, with Chris Clemons leading the ferocious pass rush that nearly annihilated Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago.
Carolina has been up and down defensively, but if they can find a way to contain Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and prevent him from entering Beast Mode, the Panthers could have a punchers chance to walk away with the win.
Personally I like Seattle to win 27-10, with at least one D/ST score.as
Falcons @ Redskins
Are we really sure that the Redskins didn't jump into the NFC South this offseason? This marks the third matchup against NFC south opponents for the Redskins, who have thus far ridden rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III -- Cmon, really?
I've written about RG3 at length this season, and you can read about him in my archive.
Atlanta has risen to the top of a crummy division (yes, I am aware of what is written in my archive...I did just send you to it), and has probably already pencilled themselves in for the division and no worse than a No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Now that Michael Turner is showing signs of awakening from his hibernation, the Falcons truly have one of, if not the best offense in the NFL.
I've also been hearing this week that people are questioning how good Atlanta really is, given the fact that they just managed to squeeze out a victory last week against the Panthers. I believe that a tough come form behind win over a divisional opponent huge!
That game was a statement win, and something that the Falcons can use to build off of and motivate themselves through the grind that is the NFL in October and November.
Unfortunately for Griffin and the rest of the Redskins, that building starts with them, as the Falcons continue their pursuit of perfection with a 27-23 win.
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