DeSean Jackson

Freeman runs for 126 yards, Falcons hold off Bucs 24-21

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Devonta Freeman rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown to help the Atlanta Falcons stay close in the tight NFC South race with a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

Freeman scored on a 32-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, restoring a 10-point lead for the Falcons (9-5), who then barely hung on to win for the fifth time in six games and remain one game behind New Orleans and Carolina in the division standings.

Freeman also caught five passes for a team-high 68 yards and had a first-half fumble recovered in the end zone by teammate Levine Toilolo for a touchdown. Matt Ryan threw an early TD pass to Justin Hardy and finished 17 of 31 passing for 212 yards and no interceptions.

Road to Super Bowl LII: Stream, start time, highlights and more

Jameis Winston threw for 299 yards and three TDs for the Bucs (4-10), including a 16-yarder to Adam Humphries that trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 24-21 with 3:51 remaining.

Winston, who also threw TD passes of 30 yards to O.J. Howard and 42 yards to Mike Evans, got the ball back with a minute left and nearly sent the game into overtime.

The third-year pro completed three straight passes to move the ball from his 29 to the Atlanta 36. Patrick Murray came on to try a 54-yard field goal to tie it, but the kick sailed wide right as time expired.

The Falcons play at New Orleans next Sunday, then close the regular season at home against Carolina – the two teams they’re chasing in the division race.

The Bucs have lost nine of 11 following a 2-1 start, taking a step back after finishing 9-7 a year ago in their first season under coach Dirk Koetter.

RING OF HONOR

Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, who’s spent the past nine seasons as ESPN’s game analyst on Monday Night Football, was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium during a halftime ceremony.

Gruden was acquired from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for two first-round draft picks, two second-round draft pick and $8 million before leading the 2002 Bucs to the club’s only Super Bowl championship in his first season in Tampa Bay.

Gruden was fired after the 2008 season and moved into the broadcast booth the following season. The Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and don’t have a postseason win since their Super Bowl run 15 years ago.

The coach’s sons – Deuce, Mike and Jayson – led the Bucs out of the tunnel before the game as the team’s honorary flag runners.

Gruden is the 11th member of the Ring of Honor, joining Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, as well as Doug Williams, John Lynch, John McKay, Mike Alstott, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber and Malcom Glazer.

INJURIES

Falcons: RB Tevin Coleman (concussion) and G Andy Levire (triceps) did not play.

Buccaneers: Played without their top two players, DT Gerald McCoy (biceps) and LB Lavonte David (hamstring), who were inactive. … Howard (ankle) limped off the field after being hit near the goal line on his TD and did not return. … G J.R. Sweezy suffered what was described as a lower body injury in the second quarter and did not return. The second half took a heavy toll, too, with LB Adarius Glanton being carted off with a leg injury, S T.J. Ward evaluated for a concussion, and S Justin Evans and WR DeSean Jackson lost to ankle injuries.

UP NEXT

Falcons: Travel to New Orleans to face division-leading Saints on Sunday.

Buccaneers: Play final road game of season at Carolina.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL.

NFL Week 17 odds roundup: Playoff positioning on the line in top matchups

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With backup Matt McGloin at the controls, the Oakland Raiders will try to sustain their road-warrior mojo against the Denver Broncos. The playoff-bound Raiders, minus QB Derek Carr (broken fibula), are 2.5-point road underdogs against the Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The New England Patriots’ result will determine whether the Raiders have a shot at the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but a loss coupled with a Kansas City Chiefs win would leave them in a wild-card spot. The Raiders are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 road games.

The Raiders, through RB Latavius Murray, have the fifth-ranked rushing attack and Denver is porous against the run. If McGloin passes well enough to keep the Broncos defense honest, Oakland could outscore Denver’s mediocre offense.

The New England Patriots are listed as 10-point road favorites against the Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins, who are 9-1 SU and 8-1-1 ATS over their last 10 games, will have RB Jay Ajayi in the lineup to help with their formula of running the ball and playing good defense. Tom Brady might rely on RB LeGarrette Blount to ease the load, since Miami’s run defense is just average.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a 5.5-point road favorite against the San Diego Chargers as they vie for the AFC West title. The Chiefs, who rolled against Denver in Week 16, are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after an ATS win, but FS Eric Berry and a takeaway-happy defense are matched against the team with the NFL’s second-most turnovers.

The Washington Redskins, who need a win and some help to make the playoffs, are eight-point favorites against the New York Giants, the locked-in No. 5 seed. Washington has not been this big of a favorite since 2009. Whether QB Kirk Cousins‘ primary targets such as WR DeSean Jackson and TE Jordan Reed face the Giants’ starters for a full four quarters is unclear.

The Atlanta Falcons are 6.5-point favorites against the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan‘s offense has lit up the scoreboard against much better defenses than the Saints’ 25th-ranked unit. On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees has the league’s most productive offense and New Orleans is 5-2 SU in their last seven visits to Atlanta.

And with the NFC North title on the line, the Green Bay Packers are favored by 3.5 points on the road against the Detroit Lions in the Sunday Night Football matchup. The Lions are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six home games, but have rarely shown the type of formidable pass rush it would take to get Packers QB Aaron Rodgers out of the zone he has been in for the past five games.

NFL Thanksgiving odds: Cowboys, Lions both betting favorites for Thursday

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The line has shifted well in favor of Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys as they renew their historic NFC East rivalry with the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. The NFC-leading Cowboys are 7.5-point favorites on the NFL point spreads against Washington, with a 51-point total, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Dallas is 9-1 straight-up and 3-7 against the spread in its last 10 games as a favorite of seven points or more, while Washington is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five games as a road underdog of 7.5 points or fewer.

Dallas is 9-1 SU and 9-0-1 ATS on the season. Prescott has proven to be a superb decision-maker and should once again get ample rushing support from Ezekiel Elliott and perhaps the NFL’s best offensive line. Washington also allows 4.6 yards per carry, second-worst in the NFL. Tight end Jason Witten also has an excellent matchup.

Washington, which is 6-3-1 SU and 7-3 ATS, will also pit a potent offense against a mid-level Dallas defense. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is benefiting from balance in the receiving corps with deep threat DeSean Jackson healthy and able to clear space for WR Pierre Garcon and WR Jamison Crowder.

The total has gone over in 13 of the Redskins’ last 15 games.

Thursday begins with an NFC North first-place showdown, as the Detroit Lions are the 2.5-point favorite against the Minnesota Vikings with a 43-point total. Matthew Stafford and the Lions, who are 6-4 SU and ATS, are the hotter team coming in but have a tough matchup against a Vikings defense that allows the second-fewest yards per pass (6.2).

The Vikings, also 6-4 SU and ATS, are trying to turn around a woeful rushing attack in order to reduce the pressure on QB Sam Bradford. Minnesota is 9-2 SU in their last 11 games as an underdog of 2.5 or fewer points. Five of the teams’ last six games have finished under.

And the likelihood of Andrew Luck (concussion protocol) being unable to play during a short week has cast the Pittsburgh Steelers as the nine-point road favorite on the moving betting line against the Indianapolis Colts. The total is 47 points.

The Steelers and Colts are each 5-5 both SU and ATS. Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le'Veon Bell, based on form, could have a big night against a Colts defense that has the lowest interception rate in the NFL. Pittsburgh is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 November games, which seems low for a consistent playoff team.

Scott Tolzien, who hasn’t thrown a meaningful pass since 2013, is the Colts’ backup QB. The Colts have been consistently churning out yardage and the Steelers defense has yet to find a rhythm, but playing Tolzien would probably hasten using a limited playbook.

The last four Steelers-Colts games have gone over the posted total at the sportsbooks.