Three takeaways from Falcons' win over Bucs

The Falcons can win the division by winning out, but they sit in good position for a playoff spot regardless.

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.

The teams have split the last 12 meetings. But that task will be more hard because running back Devonta Freeman will suit up for Atlanta this time, and Tampa Bay likely will be without Gerald McCoy.

How can you tune in to Monday Night Football between Atlanta and Tampa Bay?

The last time these two teams met was back on November 26 in Atlanta. While Winston has certainly played poorly at times this season, he showed Monday why he was the top pick in the 2015 draft.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan wasn't great - 17 of 31 for 212 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions - but the Falcons leaned on their ground game against a depleted Bucs defense.

After a promising 9-7 campaign in his first season as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter's future is already in doubt thanks to a disappointing 4-9 mark so far this season. If the Bucs don't turn it over five times, like they did last week, they'll hang around for a bit.

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. Peyton Barber scored two touchdowns for Tampa Bay, while Brent Grimes came up with a fumble recovery. All-Pro defensive tackle and team sack leader Gerald McCoy (biceps) is out as well, as is linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring).

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. I also kind of like Jameis Winston's chances to get a little something going with the passing game.

Pulling out the close games is always key, and the Falcons played their 10th game decided by seven points or fewer Monday night, which is the most in the NFL. After playing Atlanta, the Buccaneers play Carolina on Christmas Eve and the Saints on New Year's Eve to complete their regular-season schedule.


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