Mariota’s goal-line interception against Washington on Sunday should have been the end of the Atlanta Falcons’ playoff hopes. Tom Brady and the Bucs, however, had other ideas with a late 4th quarter and overtime collapse against the Browns keeping the Falcons only a game back of the division-leading Bucs.
Brady and the Bucs have no business being as terrible as they have been this season with Julio Jones, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and a great Tampa defense on paper this team should still be a top contender in the NFC. Instead, Brady and the offense have struggled and looked as bad as any Brady-led offense has ever looked and they continue to be the opposite of clutch.
After Atlanta got off to a hot start late poor decision-making cost them games against Washington and the Chargers leaving Atlanta at 5-7 on the season. With games against a lost Saints team and a turnover-prone Pittsburgh squad next up hope will likely remain alive as Tampa takes on the Saints and 49ers.
Atlanta is still in the playoff hunt not based on their own merit but on Brady’s inability to run the Tampa offense consistently. Whether it was the coaching change, or an aging roster, or simply the off-season turmoil surrounding Brady it isn’t hard to see this isn’t the same Tampa Bay team. One that has been given every opportunity by the rest of the division to lock themselves in the playoffs early on. Instead, this team continues to aid the Falcons and keep their season alive despite Atlanta’s best efforts to improve their draft position and fall out of the playoff picture. This makes the final matchup of the season even more interesting as Atlanta is slated to play Tampa in what could be not only a battle for the division crown but Atlanta’s last chance to finally hand Tom Brady a loss.