Packers eliminated from playoff contention with Falcons' win over Buccaneers


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

So what will the Buccaneers do on Monday night, when Jones and the Falcons come to Tampa for a rematch three weeks after the former Foley High School and Alabama standout torched the Bucs' secondary? It's a tall order, but the Falcons can lock up the division crown with a season-ending sweep of Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina.

The Falcons watched the Monday night game earlier this week.

The last time these teams squared off, Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center for the Buccaneers. Winston just played the best game of this third National Football League season, completely outdueling Falcons signal-caller Matt Ryan, who struggled with his accuracy all night. That includes nine game decided by a touchdown or less. On the other side, the over is 11-5 in the Bucs' last 16 games after allowing more that 250 yards passing in their previous game and is 4-1 in their last five games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game. To that end, a suggestion: throw it to Mike Evans and let him do the rest.

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

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Look for the Falcons to exploit the absence of the Bucs' best run defenders with a heavy dose of Freeman, in what could manifest into a season-best performance for the star running back. 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.

As usual, 98Rock (97.9 FM) will have the game's radio broadcast in the Tampa Bay area.

This series, which dates to 1977, ranks as one of the NFL's most evenly contested. 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). Running back Doug Martin and tight end O.J. Howard also had fumbles. "Yeah, I had a chance to get a whole game in TV-wise from them".

Defensively, Keanu Neal forced fumble and fumble recovery in the red zone was a key play in the game, the kind of turnovers the Falcons need to force to beat the Saints and Panthers.