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Buccaneers Loss Keeps Falcons NFC South Hopes Alive; What Needs to Happen?

The Atlanta Falcons are still the mix to win the NFC South after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Cleveland Browns.

The Atlanta Falcons are waking up the day after losing to the Washington Commanders 19-13 in a game that came down to the Falcons' final possession. However, they still have a puncher's shot at winning the NFC South after the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers also fell short.

Needing just a touchdown, Marcus Mariota led the Falcons offense 80 yards down the field. Before, at the Washington four-yard line, a bad ball from the former Heisman-winning quarterback was tipped and picked off. The loss dropped the Falcons to 5-7, putting the ball in the court of Tom Brady's Buccaneers.

Tied at 17 with under 40 seconds in regulation, the Bucs needed another Brady-led game-winning drive. But, after being unable to advance the ball into kicker Ryan Succop's range, the two teams went into overtime. 

Finally, after three straight punts in the extra time, the Browns and backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett got the win on a touchdown run from Nick Chubb in Brissett's final start before the return of Deshaun Watson.

The loss to the Browns means the Buccaneers hold just a half-game lead on the second-place Falcons and has opened up the division race for the Carolina Panthers (4-8) after they beat the Denver Broncos 23-10 on Sunday.

Despite being the only division without a single team with a winning record, the NFC South is close and competitive, maybe even coming down to the very end. 

Falcons Remaining Games

  • Dec. 4th vs. Steelers 
  • Dec. 18th @ Saints 
  • Dec. 24th @ Ravens
  • Jan. 1st vs. Cardinals
  • Jan. 8th vs. Buccaneers

Buccaneers Remaining Games

  • Dec. 5th vs. Saints 
  • Dec. 11th @ 49ers 
  • Dec. 18th vs. Bengals
  • Dec. 25th @ Cardinals
  • Jan. 1st vs. Panthers
  • Jan. 8th @ Falcons

Looking at the games for both the Buccaneers and Falcons, it is not out of the realm of the possibility that both split their next four games. Assuming both win their second to last game, the January 8th matchup between the Buccaneers and Falcons will decide the division if that is the case. 

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