Despite Falcons leading division, Buccaneers still favorites to win NFC South

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The Falcons control their own destiny. After winning one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever seen against Carolina, Atlanta currently sits atop the NFC South with a 4-4 record and leads the division. With one of the easiest schedules in the league, the Falcons could host a playoff game in the Wild Card round. After all, FiveThirtyEight has the Falcons at a 38% chance of winning the division, compared to the Buccaneers’ 39% respective chances. However, the betting markets reflect a different reality — the Bucs are still clear favorites to win the division.

At a variety of gambling outlets, Tampa Bay varies from -121 to -150, while Atlanta sits anywhere from +200 to +260. For the first time in his entire career, Tom Brady is two games under .500, but he is choosing to look at the glass half full. Brady said on the latest episode of his Let’s Go! Podcast that a silver lining of the terrible first half is the team is only one game out of first place.

However, the Falcons are the only team in the division without a losing record, and the Bucs have plenty of problems. Brady is operating one of the worst offenses in the league right now. The interior offensive line is abysmal, and the unit can’t produce anything in the run game. A lot of it can be chalked up to personnel — injuries and free agent departures included. But Brady’s off-the-field issues and Bruce Arians moving to the front office also could be playing a factor.

No team in the NFC South has an established identity besides the Falcons, and it’s obvious who has been the most well-coached team this season. But the Bucs are the most talented team in the division. Under Tom Brady, Tampa also has a history of starting seasons slowly and finishing them red-hot.

The fact is the Bucs still have time to figure out their issues. They sit at 3-5 with everything they want still in front of them. The talent discrepancy between the two teams is undeniable. Most of the time, talent wins in this league. However, that might not be enough this year because the Falcons are riding that “why not us?” frame of mind.

Photographer: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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