Falcons lead Bucs 17-7 at halftime

If the Falcons win their remaining games, they will repeat as NFC South division champs. This latest win for the Falcons eliminates the Green Bay Packers from playoff contention.

It's the Atlanta Falcons visiting the Buccaneers.

From there, Tampa Bay eventually regained possession when Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald dumped quarterback Matt Ryan for a 3-yard sack on third-and-9 just past the two-minute warning. He will be on the call with the Monday Night Football crew before being inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor at halftime.

The last time these teams squared off, Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center for the Buccaneers. At times, the play-calling was confusing and unsuccessful. And despite what looks to be a bad matchup against a top-five pass defense, the potential is there for the Bucs' passing game to come to life this week.

If all three teams finish 11-5, which is very possible, then the Falcons would get the nod based on what would be a season sweep of the Saints and an overall record of 5-1 in the division.

The question now is, can the Falcons close out with strong efforts against the Saints and Panthers?

What ultimately swung this game was Tampa Bay's depleted defense. Keep in mind that head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith used to coach the Falcons as offensive coordinator and head coach, respectively.

Nothing really seemed to work for Atlanta, except when the ball was given to running back Devonta Freeman. Thirteen of the last 17 contests were settled by 10 points or less.

McCoy hurt his right biceps and David suffered a hamstring injury during the Bucs' loss to the Detroit Lions.

Atlanta gained its advantage when Freeman lost a fumble at the 1-yard line, but tight end Levine Toilolo recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Even with McCoy and David in the lineup, Tampa Bay was giving up 113.2 rushing yards (18th in the NFL) and one rushing touchdown per game on average. I also kind of like Jameis Winston's chances to get a little something going with the passing game. With Martin sidelined, Barber will lead the way out of the Buccaneers backfield, while Charles Sims handles pass-catching reps and Jacquizz Rodgers serves in a change-of-pace role.

  • Angelo Rivera