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NFL 2015: Tennessee Titans Shine, Tampa Bay Bucs Surge, New England Patriots Stumble

I’ll just leave this one here for everyone to take in. The only team in the AFC South to win on Sunday was the Tennessee Titans. The game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a 42-39 battle, might have been the most entertaining game of the day, and proved to the NFL world Marcus Mariota is going to be a special kind of quarterback.

Mariota’s fourth quarter run of 87 yards for a touchdown was a thing of beauty, reminiscent of Steve Young in the open field. The Jaguars defenders could not stop the rookie quarterback with his arm or his legs in the loss – one that was actually decided by missed extra points and a failed two-point conversion. The Titans and Jaguars are out of the playoff picture in the AFC, but both teams are trending upward for 2016.

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There were 41 points scored in the final quarter of the contest, and Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles threw five touchdowns in the losing effort without an interception. Wide receiver Allen Robinson reached the 1,000-yard mark in receptions, which is the first time since 2005 a Jaguars receiver has gotten to that plateau.

The AFC South still appears to be up for grabs, with Indianapolis and Houston – despite losses on Sunday, are atop the division at 6-6.

BREAK UP THE BUCS

If the NFC playoffs started today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be in seventh place in the conference, narrowly missing out on the final spot in the post season. Just competing for a place in the second stanza shows how far this team has come.

The Buccaneers 23-19 win over Atlanta on Sunday shows the team is another rising star in the NFL while the Falcons are a team in demise after such a solid, 5-0 start. The Falcons are now 6-6 and have lost five straight, six of seven overall.

Matt Ryan continues to have issues at quarterback for Atlanta while Jameis Winston continues to lead the change is west Florida.

Winston, who was named NFL offensive rookie of the month for November, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 remaining to put Tampa Bay ahead for the win.

Tampa Bay is proving to be a real test for other teams in the conference.

“As we see it, the playoffs started and we feel like we have to win out,” coach Lovie Smith said. “There’s no doubt in that locker room. We believe we can do it.”

ANOTHER STREAK FOR THE PATRIOTS

Who knew the New England Patriots would lose two games in a row after starting the season with 10 straight wins. And no, the 35-28 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was not referee aided.

Do the Patriots have a problem now, with injuries finally catching up with this team? Tom Brady continues to lead the charge, but offensive woes were evident on Sunday.

Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt, Malcolm Jenkins returned an interception 99 yards for another touchdown and Darren Sproles took a punt return all the way on Sunday before the Eagles held on for the win.

The Eagles had given up 45 points in their last two contests. No team in the NFL had done that in three straight weeks and caught New England at the right time in the season.

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Even with a 5-7 record, Philadelphia is right in the middle of the hunt for the NFC East division title. They sit second with the Giants behind Washington.

The Patriots took an early 14-0 lead before the Eagles came back to tie the score and eventually take the lead.

“Sort of had a chance there at the end. A comeback,” coach Bill Belichick said un-enthusiastically. “But when you give up 21 points when your defense isn’t on the field, you’re going to lose 98 percent of those games.”

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