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The Falcons are in first place in the NFC South for the first time in a long while

Atlanta gets it via a Buccaneers loss, and can extend their lead with a win on Sunday.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Falcons haven’t been atop the NFC South in a long while. A couple of times early in the year they’ve managed to grab hold of a temporary lead that they haven’t been able to hang on to, but nearly halfway through the season? Absolutely not.

That changed tonight. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued their recent run of lousy play, dropping one against the Baltimore Ravens and moving to 3-5. That’s enough to give the Falcons sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

As ESPN’s Mike Rothstein notes, that’s the first time they’ve been at the head of the division this late in the year since 2016, which was a pretty good year.

This isn’t something to unfurl a banner over just yet, given how early in the season it is and given that the Falcons still have to beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to hold that lead. With Tom Brady’s blood pact with the devil apparently running out of juice and the Buccaneers looking so shaky, not to mention the Panthers and Saints being pretty terrible, this really does look like a division the Falcons may be able to win.

Let’s hope they can knock off Carolina to move to .500 and keep that lead this weekend, and we’ll see what kind of heights they can achieve from there. In a year where the Falcons are far from a finished product, this is a welcome development.