NFC South Stock Market: Week 7
The NFL regular season is more volatile on a week-to-week basis than the Stock Market. A team that lost by several touchdowns one week can follow up with a blowout victory the next. Players who are responsible for the blame one week could be responsible for a game-winning play the next.
With Week 6 in the books, let’s take a look at three NFC South players who saw their stock rise, and three NFC South players who saw it fall as we look ahead to Week 7.
Benjamin Watson, tight end, New Orleans Saints
How about Ben Watson stepping up for the Saints when it mattered most? In primetime, in a game his team absolutely had to win, Watson had a ridiculous 10-catch, 127-yard performance while scoring a touchdown as well. Watson was Drew Brees’ favorite target by a long shot, receiving 12 targets, far more than the next closest player, who had just five. Is it a sign of a bigger offensive role for Watson? Don’t be surprised, because his consistent play on Thursday night made a world of difference.
The Carolina Panthers’ offensive leaders
This one goes out to Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen. These three paced the offense for the Panthers, who went into Seattle and grabbed a massive victory to get to 5-0. Newton threw for 269 yards with one touchdown while rushing for another. Stewart rushed for 78 yards and two touchdowns against the talented Seattle run defense, while Olsen was stellar with seven catches for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown. It gets no better than the combined performance of these three players.
Cameron Jordan, defensive end, New Orleans Saints
Jordan was a major playmaker for the Saints during their Week 6 upset of the previously undefeated Falcons. He not only made six total tackles, but he also had three sacks, four quarterback hits and a fumble recovery. Jordan did a little bit of everything in an effort to hold Atlanta to just 21 points offensively, with seven of those points coming with 1:29 left in the fourth quarter, essentially garbage time.
The Atlanta Falcons’ pass rush
Yes, the Falcons saw their pass rush get four quarterback hits on Brees, but it resulted in only one sack. The fact that Brees was able to stand back and complete 30 of 39 passes for 312 yards is pretty telling. The pressure just wasn’t there for Atlanta, and it’s something that you can bet head coach Dan Quinn is going to focus on fixing heading into Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans. Atlanta has just seven sacks all season, tied for worst in the NFL, so it’s a matter of finding the player who can step up and get to the quarterback sooner than later.
Devin Funchess, wide receiver, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers need badly for Funchess to step up right now, but he hasn’t been able to show the growth just yet. While Funchess made one incredibly impressive catch against the Seahawks on Sunday, he also dropped one or two routine balls. Funchess was targeted the second most on the team, six times, behind only Olsen, which proves that Newton is looking his way more and more as the season rolls on. The rookie wide receiver isn’t there yet, but he’ll get there eventually.
Any wide receiver on Atlanta not named Julio Jones
The top two receivers for the Falcons were Jones, with six catches for 93 yards, and then running back Devonta Freeman with eight catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. After that, it fell to Leonard Hankerson with four catches for 37 yards and then Roddy White with three catches for 23 yards and a touchdown. Simply put, the Falcons need get more production from the wide receiver position to make not only Matt Ryan’s life easier, but Jones’ too.