Falcons edge Bucs to remain in NFC South race

Falcons edge Bucs to remain in NFC South race

This latest win for the Falcons eliminates the Green Bay Packers from playoff contention.

PUBLIC BETTING: As of Monday morning, 79% of the betting tickets are on the Falcons to cover the spread and 67% of the money is also on Atlanta minus the points. Instead, the team has fallen well short of lofty preseason expectations, relegated to playing spoiler for their NFC South counterparts over the final three weeks of the year.

The score gave the Falcons a 24-14 lead and secured the their ninth win of the season.

The Falcons entered Monday night sixth in the NFC playoff picture and maintained their standing behind the fifth-seeded Saints and fourth-seeded Panthers, both 10-4.

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The last time these teams squared off, Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center for the Buccaneers. A season derailed by injury, controversy and overall lackluster play has largely been one to forget for the former No. 1 overall draft pick. To that end, a suggestion: throw it to Mike Evans and let him do the rest. On the season, the Bucs have been in the middle of the pack in the National Football League with 20 turnovers (nine fumbles and 11 interceptions) and even after Sunday's disastrous game carry a +4 turnover differential. But if Tampa Bay's young squad wanted to "rise up" and take out the Falcons for embattled head coach Dirk Koetter, that would suit Detroit just fine. Atlanta has been inconsistent offensively this season but as we know, the Falcons have a ton of firepower on that said of the ball in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman. After his 1,402 rushing yard season in 2015, he has 823 rushing yards in the last two seasons COMBINED.

Because the Bucs have Winston, they could have a bounceback season in 2018 - provided they can stay relatively healthy. And, well, the Falcons are way better than Tampa Bay.

The Falcons led 17-7 at halftime, pulling away with a 10-point second quarter. The Tampa defense was also without several injured players - Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (biceps), linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring) and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring). "Yeah, I had a chance to get a whole game in TV-wise from them".

On the ensuing drive, Tampa Bay pulled into a 7-7 tie with Winston's 30-yard scoring pass to rookie tight end O.J. Howard, who sustained a game-ending ankle injury on the play.