The NFC South is now the Saints’ to lose.
The Saints took control of the division Sunday with a 31-21 win over the Panthers to complete the season sweep.
He has gone without a passing touchdown in two games this season, but the Saints won both of those games. He was 25 of 34 for 269 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, but the Saints ran for 148 yards and had three rushing scores.
The Saints also have a stout defense to go with their perennially potent offense. They will be a tough out in the NFC playoffs.
3. Panthers now vying for a wild-card spot — The Saints will win the NFC South, meaning the Panthers are now playing for the No. 5 seed. Carolina can earn an important tiebreaker next week by beating the Packers (6-6), but the division is now out of reach. The Panthers do have a win over the Lions (6-6) and will go for a season sweep of the Falcons (7-5) in the regular-season finale.
Matthew Stafford passed for 381 yards with an injured throwing hand and set up Matt Prater for a 46-yard field goal in the closing seconds Sunday, helping the Detroit Lions remain in playoff contention with a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Stafford moved the Lions 49 yards in eight plays to set up Prater’s winning kick with 20 seconds left — the 32nd game-winning drive of the quarterback’s career, and fourth this season.
Stafford threw a 5-yard TD pass to Golden Tate and Theo Riddick scored on runs of 2 and 18 yards to help the Lions take a 21-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Winston, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, led a 75-yard drive that he finished with a 2-yard scoring pass to O.J. Howard and then used a 40-yard pass interference call against Detroit cornerback DJ Hayden to set a 2-yard TD throw to seldom-used offensive lineman Leonard Wester to make it 21-21 with eight minutes remaining.