it was almost like a protection spell had been cast to ward off the Bengals from stepping foot in the end zone.

The Panthers have gotten over the proverbial Super Bowl hangover that plagued them throughout their 6-10 2016 season. Carolina is 4-1 and sitting on top of the division once again, and all but one of those wins is over a team that’s over .500. The Panthers are playing good football right now, and Cam Newton is coming off one of the best games of his career.

However, the Falcons are more recently coming off of a Super Bowl, and so far, have shown no signs of a hangover. Even in their one loss, they still almost managed to beat the Bills in Week 4, despite injuries to Courtney Upshaw, Vic Beasley, Julio Jones, and Mohamed Sanu.

The NFC South is always up for grabs year in and year out, but if the Panthers and Falcons keep going at this rate, the race is going to be as entertaining as it’s ever been. There’s only been one repeat winner of the division, and that’s when Carolina won it in three consecutive seasons from 2013-2015.

In the first two weeks of the season, it was almost like a protection spell had been cast to ward off the Bengals from stepping foot in the end zone. Even when it looked like they had scored, nope, that’s not a touchdown:

After two weeks of winless, touchdown-free football, the Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor. Since then, the offense has looked revived, especially quarterback Andy Dalton:

We should find out if the offense has truly rebounded on Sunday, when the 1-3 Bengals host the surprising 3-1 Bills. Through the first month of the season, the Buffalo defense ranks No. 1 in DVOA. No team in the league has given up fewer points, either. In their only loss so far this season a 9-3 field goal fest against the Panthers the Bills didn’t surrender any touchdowns. They’ve allowed just four all season.

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