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Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinch third straight NFC South title

There's a three-peat in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured their third consecutive NFC South title -- and fourth straight playoff appearance -- with Sunday’s 9-0 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Off to the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 4 seed, the Bucs could have wrapped up the division in Week 17 but lost to the New Orleans Saints. They wouldn't squander a second shot at a three-peat, though, taking care of business against the last-place Panthers.

Head coach Todd Bowles has piloted the Bucs to back-to-back division crowns since taking over for a retired Bruce Arians. However, the 2023 title win has a far more harmonious feel than the 2022 championship.

The 2022 Bucs fell well short of preseason expectations and won the division with an 8-9 record.

This current squad of swashbucklers heads to the playoffs as winners, finishing at 9-8 with five wins in the last six games.

"It's great to win three straight, especially how people counted them out," Bowles told reporters after the game, per Fox Sports. "I'm happy for the fans. I'm happy for the players, the coaches, the management, the scouting department. They worked so hard to get everything done."

Bowles added that each player received a game ball following the clinching win.

Ahead of this season, these Buccaneers weren't dealing with the same expectations that a Tom Brady-led squad had in previous years.

Instead, quarterback Baker Mayfield has led them, the former No. 1 overall pick signing with his fourth team in three seasons prior to putting forth one of his finest campaigns. Mayfield will now return to the playoffs for the first time since leading the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

Sunday marks the first time in franchise history that the Buccaneers have won three consecutive divisions, and they are the only NFC team to have advanced to the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.

Last year, the Bucs were ousted on Super Wild Card Weekend by the Dallas Cowboys, and after Sunday's clincher, they'll face another NFC East foe on Monday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. ET -- the Philadelphia Eagles.

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