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Latest from Jon Lewis

    The supplies are nice, but the Red Cross does not need blankets, water, or diapers. What they can really use is cash.  'We can turn that into help that's needed immediately,' says Sherry Nicholson, with the Red Cross in Atlanta.  She tells WSB that getting items to the Houston area, and areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey, is difficult. Distributing those supplies is even more difficult, and the tractor-trailers carrying those loads can create blocked roads and trouble for law enforcement.  Besides, she says, anything that is needed can be purchased, and at a lower price by the Red Cross.  Take, for example, someone who arrives at a shelter soaked, with only the clothes they have on.  'A Red Cross worker steps up, wraps a Red Cross blanket around that person,' Nicholson says, 'and can give them a meal, can give them a comfort kit, which contains all those things we take for granted, like toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant. All those things we take for granted.'  It costs the Red Cross about $17 to provide that. The recipient gets two blankets; one to line their cot and another to cover themselves.  Through the donations of restaurants, hotel chains and suppliers, the agency can buy what is needed.  They also send supplies to the disaster area, with one of those distribution centers located in our area.  A Red Cross Center located in Union City has sent truckloads of needed items to the Houston area.  Those items, like meals and blankets, have gone out. Cleaning items will go later.  'The mops, the shovels, the brooms, the bleach, as people are able to get back and maybe clean a little bit,' Nicholson says.
  • We have warned you about skimmers. The latest device that crooks use to steal credit card information is called a Shim.   A shim is exactly what you might think. It is a thin, small card, wedged into an ATM or at a gas pump. Once inserted, it steals information.   'It's inserted into the Dip and Wait card slot,' says Dottie Callina of the Better Business Bureau, “in an ATM, at a gas pump or, really, anywhere.'   Unlike skimmers, which can be bulky and very noticeable, shims are almost undetectable.   'Where it is, it intercepts data off your chip,' Callina tells WSB, 'your credit card or debit card chip, the EMV chip, the one that's supposed to protect everybody.'   The BBB is telling people that, if possible, they should use tap and pay, like Apple or Samsung pay, to avoid the scam. In addition, they warn, if the card is not going into the reader smoothly and something appears to be blocking it, there may be a shimmer inside.   The scam has been used in other parts of the United States and in Canada, but has not been repoened in the Atlanta area. Yet.
  • Mistakes were made. A lot of mistakes and, in the end, they led to the murders of two Georgia Corrections officers.  The GBI has completed its investigation into the June 13 shootings of corrections officer Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue and found that some procedures were not followed. That, according to the report, led to the murders by inmates Ricky DuBose and Donnie Russell Rowe.  'The report outlines several security breaches that led to the escape that day,' says Department of Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier.   'The first was a breach in the inmates' search process,' Dozier says. 'We are aware that they were able to take a pen or a toothbrush on that bus that day.'  Dozier says the standard procedure should have included a strip search of the inmates but, instead, only included a pat down.  'They was a breach in the cuffing,' Dozier says. He says the inmates handcuffs should have been double locked, but were not. 'Within minutes after boarding that bus they were able to out of their cuffs, not just them but several others.'  'The inmates were not continuously supervised while on the bus,' Dozier says. 'There were two occasions: once on the grounds of Baldwin (State Prison) and once on the ground of Hancock (State Prison).'  The GBI reports also details how neither officer wore protective clothing. Billue's ballistic vest was found in his car while Monica’s stab vest was found at his home. In addition, the report says neither guard had their gun on them, nor had it secured. The guns were kept either in a box or on a shelf behind the two officers in the front compartment of the bus.  Dozier says, based on what happened, procedures have been changed.  Padlocks that secure the gate between the guards and the inmates will now only release the key when the lock is locked.  The security chief of the prison is now in charge of the inmate bus, instead of one of the corrections guards.  Inmates will, as was the policy, be strip-searched before entering a bus.  The killings of the officers prompted a nationwide manhunt for the escaped inmates. DeBose and Rowe were captured two days after the killings, after trying to carjack a car in central Tennessee.
  • A mother is locked up in the DeKalb County jail, charged in the hot car death of her daughter.  Police say 25-year-old Dijanelle Fowler is charged with second degree murder and second degree cruelty to children in the June death of one-year-old Skylar Fowler.  The girl's body was found inside the car in a parking deck of Emory Hospital.  The investigation into the girl’s death took a month.  “The timeline of her interaction with her child throughout the day,” says DeKalb police Captain Jerry A. Lewis. “Through the process of the investigation we were able to determine that some of the things that were told to us were not true.”  Captain Lewis tells WSB that the biggest discrepancy was the timeline involving how long the girl was in the car.  “The injuries that the child had for the amount of time that she said the child was in the vehicle do not match,” Captain Lewis says.  When the incident happened police went on the theory that the mother was getting her hair done for six hours while the one year old died inside the hot car.  Captain Lewis says there is a father, but that neither the suspect nor the victim lived with him. He has been notified of the girl’s death and the charges.  The charges against the 25-year-old do not include intent, nor do they need to. Captain Lewis says the cruelty charge allows police to also charge her with second degree murder due to negligence.  Surveillance video shows the woman leaving her car and entering the Northlake Tower Festival Shopping Center just after 10:00 the morning of the girl’s death. Fowler then leaves the shopping center at about four that afternoon.
  • He could not get out of jury duty, but to be honest, he really didn't want to.  “It really wasn't getting stuck,” says P. Harris Hines, 'I got my jury summons like everybody else. I always thought it was a pillar of a free society.”   So Hines missed his day job for jury duty. And what does he do? He's the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.   “I considered it an honor and a privilege,” Hines tells WSB. “My wife has done it, and my father some years ago. I'm part of the legal system and always try to be a good citizen.”   Hines was summoned to jury duty in Cobb County, and, even though he did not get chosen for a jury, he did find the experience a good one.   “I always believed, and believe now, that jurors seek to do that which is right according to the law,” Hines says, “and the people I was serving with, I feel good about them serving.”   Hines cannot remember if he has ever been called for jury duty before. The original date of his service was during a busy time for the state Supreme Court, so he asked to be rescheduled and his request was granted.
  • She is tall, slim, wears a bandanna, and she is wanted for two bank robberies.  The FBI and Marietta police are hunting for the woman suspected of pulling off two robberies. The first was at the Wells Fargo bank in Marietta, and the second at a PNC Bank in Sandy Springs.  “The fact that she's hit so close together, time wise, leads us to believe we will see her again,” says Stephen Emmett with the FBI.  The first robbery, at the Wells Fargo, happened on June 16 at the bank on Roswell Street NE. The second was 10 days later, on June 26 at the PNC Bank at 5640 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.  Both robberies were pulled off late in the afternoon.  In both cases the robber entered the bank, told an employee that this was a robbery, and walked away with the cash.  There were surveillance cameras at the banks and they took some very clear pictures of the suspect.  “I understand the pictures are innocuous, but make no mistake, a robbery is occurring,” Emmett tells WSB. “Someone, from the photographs, has to know who this person is.”  The individual in both robberies is described as a black female, 25 to 35 years old with a slender to medium build and wearing a bandanna.
  • It's a scam tech could affect anybody buying groceries or just about anything else.   This was at the Kroger on Highway 138 in Conyers. There are two suspects who approached one victim.   “They offered to let her use the employee discount for Kroger,” says Conyers Police Sergeant Kim Lucas, “while they faked completing a transaction at the self check out counter.”   Lucas tells WSB the opportunity for robbery happened when the victim turned away.   “An employee came up to assist them with that, she was talking to the victim, distracting her, and that's when this couple made off with the victims cash in hand,” Lucas says.   Lucas says the employee was not part of the scam, and was simply doing her job by offering to help.   Police do not have any of the reports of similar fifth but, Lucas says, there are, no doubt, more out there.   “Chances are this is not the first time that they've done this,” she says, “ and it won't be the last unless we catch them.”
  • Clergy from around the state are pleading with Georgia Senator Jonny Isakson concerning the current Healthcare bill before the Senate and the future of Medicaid in Georgia.  “Respecting dignity of people,” says John Berry, CEO of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia. “The Healthcare bill that was passed by the House of Representatives does not respect the dignity of human beings in the way they are treated with their health. And the Senate version appears, from a Medicaid perspective, if possible, to be even worse.”  Berry has been with the Society for 11 years and says he's seen everything.  “We have dealt with situations where people have told us ‘I have to choose whether to put food on the table for my children or provide medicines that I need to live a healthy life’,” Berry says.  A letter has been sent to Senator Isakson, signed by more than 100 clergy members, asking him to protect Medicaid.  Archdeacon Carole Maddox, with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, is among those who have signed the letter.  “This is clearly not morally right,” Maddox says. “It is, instead, cruel and destructive.  “It is completely contrary to our call as Christians to care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the children,” Maddox says. “I can understand how Christians of good faith can find themselves on both sides of many issues. But healthcare is a no-brainer.”  According to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 19 percent of Georgians receive Medicaid, compared to the national average of 20 percent.  Nearly 2,000,000 people in Georgia receive Medicaid help, many of them children, seniors, the disabled, and veterans. The letter claims that federal Medicaid funding in Georgia would be cut by $4 billion over the next 10 years.  The Society also says that Georgia school districts would face a financial strain under the current bill. It says that Georgia schools received $30 million in Medicaid funds in 2015 to provide service for special education students and pay the schools for nurses and therapists.  The letter to the Senator has been signed by more than 100 clergy from around the state.
  • That notice that you got right now, throw it in the trash.'  Those words, that every Fulton County homeowner wants to hear, come from Commission Vice-Chairman Bob Elis concerning the 2017 tax assessments.  The county commission, in a unanimous vote, approved a measure that corrects the 2017 tax assessments by using the 2016 tax rates.  The decision by the board does not affect commercial properties and homeowners who have made improvements to their homes will also see an increase.  The corrective measure was sponsored by Commissioners Ellis, John Eaves and Liz Hausmann.  'The system is broken,' Hausmann says. 'It's inherently broken.'  Commissioner Emma Darnell says in addition to fixing a problem, the vote also shows that the Fulton County government is willing to listen.  The new tax assessments will be completed within a few weeks and then be sent out to homeowners by August. Those homeowners can still appeal the assessment, if they so choose.   'You can still appeal,' Ellis says, 'but, as for the new digest, you'll probably like it a whole lot better than what you have right now.”
  • Not every jail inmate is a bad guy and not all want to escape. Some try to help their guards.  A Polk County Sheriff's deputy owes his life to a work detail of six inmates who, instead of trying to get away, rendered help to the man until other authorities arrived.  It happen last week. It was a brutally hot and humid day and the officer was watching over a work detail. He was having some difficulties, so an inmate asked if he was alright.  'The guard said he was, but also told the inmate that he should call 911 on his cell phone if anything happens,' says Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats.  Moats tells WSB that, a few minutes later, the deputy wavered then collapsed due to the humidity.  'They (the inmates) rolled him over on his back,' Sheriff Moats tells WSB, 'took his gun belt off and his vest off and got ready to perform CPR when he started breathing.'  The inmates could have taken the officer's gun and car, but stayed with him instead.  'My guys were thinking the worst on their way over there,' Moats says, 'but, when they got there, all the inmates were with the officer. All were accounted for. They took care of him.'  The actions of the inmates do not surprise the sheriff.  'These guys are not bad guys,' Sheriff Moats says. 'They're people who just made a mistake and got caught.'  The Sheriff and his staff bought the inmates pizzas after what they did. The deputy’s family provided dessert.
  • Jon Lewis

    Field Reporter

    Jon Lewis has been a reporter for WSB for 20 years starting in 1997. He is originally from New York. His top stories include going to Norway to cover Jimmy Carter receiving the Nobel Peace prize. 

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  • Atlanta police have been handing out the flyers across the city telling people that a permit is needed to give food to the homeless. The fliers are being used as a warning to those trying to help the homeless. Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon found one group who received more than a warning. Instead of getting praise for helping Atlanta’s homeless, Adele Maclean and Marlon Kautz say they’re getting punished for it. “We’re looking at a citation,” Maclean said. Channel 2 Action News’ cameras were there when police wrote the pair a ticket for handing out food to the homeless without a permit. “I mean outrageous, right? Of all the things to be punished for, giving free food to people who are hungry?” Maclean told Wilfon. TRENDING STORIES: Worker killed after woman drives onto sidewalk on busy road, police say There's a Christmas tree shortage in metro Atlanta Arrests made in violent robberies of Asian-owned businesses The pair said they give food to the homeless every Sunday in Atlanta’s Woodruff Park, and have never heard of needing a permit. “It seems ridiculous to me that they would be spending their time and resources on stopping people from feeding the homeless,” said Maclean said. Wilfon contacted the city to find out what was going on. A city representative said the Fulton and DeKalb County boards of health both require permits to give food to the homeless and the city of Atlanta enforces those requirements. While the requirements aren’t new, Atlanta police told Wilfon they recently started more strictly enforcing them for several reasons. The city believes there are better ways to help the homeless, like getting them into programs and shelters. They are also taking issue with the litter the food distributions leave behind. Ben Parks, who runs a nonprofit for the homeless, told Wilfon he can see the argument from both sides. “I understand where the city’s coming from. I understand when they see groups come in and leave a bunch of trash behind,' Parks said. While this ordinance is also on the books in DeKalb County, DeKalb police told Wilfon Wednesday that they are not using police to enforce it. They’re leaving that up to the health department.
  • A candidate for mayor says she has always wondered if the current mayor of Atlanta won his seat fair and square. Mary Norwood lost to current Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in 2009. Make sure to tune in to WSB-TV as Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood go head-to-head in a live runoff debate moderated by Channel 2’s Justin Farmer, LIVE on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.  Norwood told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston that she never spoke publicly about the accusation because what she said she knew what happened wasn't significant enough to upset the entire system.  [WATCH: Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks on Channel 2 Action News This Morning] But our partners at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a copy of a transcript of a private June meeting where she brought up the 2009 election.  'I just want you to be who you say you are, live where you say you live and vote once,' Norwood told Huddleston.  [WATCH: Mary Norwood speaks on Channel 2 Action News This Morning] Norwood raised concerns about the 2009 election, which she lost to Reed by a couple of hundred votes.  TRENDING STORIES: Worker killed after woman drives onto sidewalk on busy road, police say There's a Christmas tree shortage in metro Atlanta Arrests made in violent robberies of Asian-owned businesses She told Huddleston that she always suspected there was voter fraud.  'I know there are instances where individuals were asked to vote in the election,' Norwood said.  She said individuals who didn’t live in Atlanta still voted in the mayor's race.   [SPECIAL SECTION: The Atlanta Mayor’s Race] Norwood said she's never talked publicly about the accusation, but privately has mentioned it to several groups, including last June, at a meeting that was recorded and leaked to the AJC. 'I have spoken privately to many groups, including last night to the NAACP, about the fact that I did not go public with some things I was concerned about with that election,' Norwood said.  ATLANTA MAYOR QUICK FACTS The city’s last five mayors have been African-American The last 27 have been Democrats There have only ever been two Republican mayors of Atlanta Shirley Franklin was the first female mayor of Atlanta. The next mayor will be the second Only four former Atlanta mayors were born in Atlanta Click here for more facts about Atlanta mayors Huddleston contacted Reed for a comment on this story Wednesday. His spokesperson responded and said in part: “If Mary Norwood had proof that the election results were invalid in 2009, she should have stepped forward and challenged the results then. She did not because she could not. She has no evidence to back up her claims. She has been a public official for the past four years and never raised any concerns about the integrity of our voting system.' Norwood said after the 2009 race, she joined the Fulton County Elections Board to get a new director on staff.  She told Huddleston that she's confident the Dec. 5 mayor's race will be fair, accurate and impartial.
  • Beyond the slick, Hollywood-style cinematics, the Islamic State is targeting Western recruits with videos suggesting they, too, can be heroes like Bruce Willis' character in 'Die Hard.'That's the conclusion of The Chicago Project on Security and Threats, which analyzed some 1,400 videos released by IS between 2013 and 2016. Researchers who watched and catalogued them all said there is more to the recruitment effort than just sophisticated videography, and it's not necessarily all about Islam.Instead, Robert Pape, who directs the security center, said the extremist group is targeting Westerners — especially recent Muslim converts — with videos that follow, nearly step-by-step, a screenwriter's standard blueprint for heroic storytelling.'It's the heroic screenplay journey, the same thing that's in Wonder Woman, where you have someone who is learning his or her own powers through the course of their reluctant journey to be hero,' Pape said.The project at the University of Chicago separately has assembled a database of people who have been indicted in the United States for activities related to IS. Thirty-six percent were recent converts to Islam and did not come from established Muslim communities, according to the project. Eighty-three percent watched IS videos, the project said.The group's success in using heroic storytelling is prompting copycats, Pape said. The research shows al-Qaida's Syria affiliate has been mimicking IS' heroic narrative approach in its own recruitment films. 'We have a pattern that's emerging,' Pape said.Intelligence and law enforcement officials aren't sure the approach is all that new. They say IS has been using any method that works to recruit Westerners. Other terrorism researchers think IS' message is still firmly rooted in religious extremism.Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks messaging by militant groups, agrees that IS makes strong, visual appeals resembling Hollywood movies and video games, making its media operation more successful than al-Qaida's. And IS videos can attract hero wannabes, she said.'However, these features of IS media are only assets to a core message it uses to recruit,' Katz said. 'At the foundation of IS recruitment propaganda is not so much the promise to be a Hollywood-esque hero, but a religious hero. There is a big difference between the two.'When a fighter sits in front of a camera and calls for attacks, Katz said, he will likely frame it as revenge for Muslims killed or oppressed somewhere in the world. The message is designed to depict any terror attack in that nation as justified and allow the attacker to die as a martyr, she said.The promise of religious martyrdom is powerful to anybody regardless of whether they are rich or poor, happy or unhappy, steeped in religion or not at all, she said.Pape said he knows he's challenging conventional wisdom when he says Westerners are being coaxed to join IS ranks not because of religious beliefs, but because of the group's message of personal empowerment and Western concepts of individualism.How else can one explain Western attackers' loose connections to Islam, or their scarce knowledge of IS's strict, conservative Sharia law, he asked. IS is embracing, not rejecting, Western culture and ideals, to mobilize Americans, he said.'This is a journey like Clint Eastwood,' Pape said, recalling Eastwood's 1970s performance in 'High Plains Drifter' about a stranger who doles out justice in a corrupt mining town. 'When Clint Eastwood goes in to save the town, he's not doing it because he loves them. He even has contempt for the people he's saving. He's saving it because he's superior,' Pape said.'That's Bruce Willis in 'Die Hard.' That's Wonder Woman. ... Hollywood has figured out that's what puts hundreds of millions in theater seats,' Pape said. 'IS has figured out that's how to get Westerners.'Pape said the narrative in the recruitment videos targeting westerners closely tracks Chris Vogler's 12-step guide titled 'The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers.' The book is based on a narrative identified by scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama and other storytelling.Step No. 1 in Vogler's guide is portraying a character in his 'ordinary world.'An example is a March 25, 2016, video released by al-Qaida's Syria branch about a young British man with roots in the Indian community. It starts: 'Let us tell you the story of a real man... Abu Basir, as we knew him, came from central London. He was a graduate of law and a teacher by profession.'Vogler's ninth step is about how the hero survives death, emerging from battle to begin a transformation, sometimes with a prize.In the al-Qaida video, the Brit runs through sniper fire in battle. He then lays down his weapon and picks up a pen to start his new vocation blogging and posting Twitter messages for the cause.Matthew Levitt, a terrorism expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says it doesn't surprise him that IS would capitalize on what he dubs the 'zero to hero' strategy because the organization is very pragmatic and accepts recruits regardless of their commitment to Islamic extremism.Heroic aspirations are only one reason for joining the ranks of IS, he said. Criminals also seek the cover of IS to commit crimes. Others sign up because they want to belong to something.'I've never seen a case of radicalization that was 100 percent one way or the other,' Levitt said.
  • A Georgia mother whose toddler has been waiting for a kidney transplant his whole life was gifted a car on Tuesday -- hours before a kidney donor was found. >> Read more trending news  Carmellia Burgess brought her son home from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Nov. 8, where he’d been since Oct. 29.  Burgess’s son, AJ, battled a potentially deadly infection, contracted pneumonia, had surgery to implant a new port for his dialysis treatments and received blood transfusions before he was released from the hospital, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. MORE: Toddler heads home from hospital to wait for kidney transplant But his mother didn’t have a car to get AJ to his hemodialysis appointments three times a week, she wrote on Facebook. That trouble ended Tuesday, when actor Tyler Perry gifted Burgess with a new car. The family later learned a deceased donor kidney would be given to AJ this week, attorney Mawuli Davis said.
  • A federal lawsuit set to go to trial next month marks the latest legal action brought against former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio over allegations that he pursued a trumped-up criminal case to get publicity and embarrass an adversary.The political opponent in this case: U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.One of Flake's sons filed a malicious-prosecution lawsuit, saying Arpaio pursued felony animal cruelty charges against him and his then-wife in a bid to do political damage to the senator and gain publicity.Austin Flake and his wife were charged in the heat-exhaustion deaths of 21 dogs in June 2014 at a kennel operated by his in-laws. The Flakes were watching the dogs when the in-laws were out of town.The dogs died when an air conditioning unit failed in a small room where the animals spent the night.The case against the Flakes was dismissed at the request of prosecutors, and the owners of the kennel pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges after an expert determined the air conditioner failed because the operators didn't properly maintain it.The lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial on Dec. 5, alleges that Arpaio was intent on linking the Flakes to the deaths, going so far as to conduct surveillance on the senator's home. The suit also says Arpaio's investigators examined phone records to see if the younger Flake called his father during the time he was watching the dogs.Lawyers for Austin Flake and his then-wife have said the senator disagreed with Arpaio over immigration and was critical of the movement questioning the authenticity of then-President Barack Obama's birth certificate.In a deposition, Arpaio didn't accept responsibility for bringing the charges against the couple and was unable to cite any evidence to support the allegations. But he still expressed confidence in his investigators.'I am going by what my detectives accomplished during their investigation,' Arpaio said during the July 2016 deposition. 'They had the nuts and bolts already. I defend my people. I have confidence in them. I don't have to know everything that's going on.'Arpaio and Jeffrey Leonard, an attorney representing Maricopa County and the former sheriff, declined to comment on the case.Stephen Montoya, an attorney for Austin Flake and his former wife, Logan Brown, said the sheriff's office didn't have evidence showing his clients intended to hurt the dogs, yet still charged them with crimes that devastated them and contributed to the demise of their marriage.'It splashed their names across the internet as the murderers of 21 dogs. It really ravaged them emotionally,' Montoya said, noting that Austin Flake was 21 and his wife was 20 at the time.A ruling in August by U.S. District Judge Neil Wake dismissed a defamation allegation from the lawsuit but determined investigators didn't have probable cause to charge the couple.'A factfinder could thus reasonably find that the prosecutors initially charged the Flakes based on pressure from Arpaio,' Wake wrote.The prosecutor who brought the allegations said in a court filing that she wasn't pressured by Arpaio's office to prosecute the couple and that the decision to present the case to a grand jury was made by her and her supervisors. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office isn't named as a party in the lawsuit.The lawsuit doesn't specify how much money the younger Flake and his ex-wife are seeking. But they previously sought $4 million in a notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit.It isn't the first time Arpaio has been accused of trumping up charges in an animal cruelty case.He launched an investigation against a police officer from the Phoenix suburb of Chandler over a 2007 death of a police dog that was left in a hot vehicle for 12 hours in blistering summer heat.The officer was charged with animal abuse but eventually acquitted. He filed a lawsuit alleging Arpaio brought the criminal case so the sheriff could exploit the publicity.Taxpayers paid $775,000 to the officer to settle the case.___Follow Jacques Billeaud at twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/jacques%20billeaud .
  • Two-game winning streaks have given much-needed midseason boosts to Tampa Bay and Atlanta.Now it's time to see which team is ready for the tough NFC South.The Falcons (6-4) have moved into playoff position with back-to-back wins over Dallas and Seattle. Atlanta plays five of its last six regular-season games against NFC South rivals, including Sunday's visit from the Buccaneers.The Buccaneers (4-6) have won two straight over the Jets and Dolphins. Four of their last six games will be against NFC South opponents, including two against Atlanta.Tampa Bay faces a tough climb up the NFL's only division with three teams with winning records. The two straight wins have come with Ryan Fitzpatrick subbing for injured quarterback Jameis Winston . Fitzpatrick, who will make his third straight start against Atlanta, says the wins have helped boost morale.'It's definitely changed a little bit, a little more upbeat, but it's still businesslike attitude,' Fitzpatrick said. 'We know we've dug ourselves a big hole and we still have a long way to go.'Asked what Fitzpatrick has brought to the offense, Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter said 'Toughness. Smarts. Competitiveness. Desire to win. Calming influence. How's that off the top of my head?'The Falcons have the same record through 10 games as they did in 2016, when they won the NFC championship before losing to New England in the Super Bowl. Last week's 34-31 win at Seattle left Atlanta in position for a wild card, even though they still trail New Orleans (8-2) and Carolina (7-3) in the division.'I knew it was going to be a battle,' said Falcons coach Dan Quinn of the division. 'That would be certainly the case this weekend. ... We had real regard for the division before the season started. As you go through and look at the different matchups and how some of the teams play, that's certainly the case.'While the Buccaneers' surge has come without Winston, the Falcons have had starting running back Devonta Freeman for only two snaps of their two straight wins. Freeman left the 27-7 win over Dallas with a concussion after only two plays and was held out last week.Freeman was still in the concussion protocol for the start of practice this week and is expected to miss his second straight game, leaving Tevin Coleman as the starter.Here are some things to watch as the Buccaneers and Falcons renew their NFC South rivalry:RYANS EXPECTING TWINS: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and his wife, Sarah, are expecting twins. For Ryan, the news brings more significance to his jersey number 2.'There is something about 2,' Ryan said, smiling. 'Before, I just liked it. Now I have something for it. It's cool.'Ryan said the twins are due 'in a couple months. We're just very happy, very excited.'REAL MCCOY: Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is tied with Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones for the NFL lead with 20 quarterback hits. McCoy is tied with Atlanta's Grady Jarrett with 10 tackles for loss, tied for the most among defensive tackles. He leads the Bucs with 5.0 sacks.GOODBYE GEORGIA DOME: This will be the Falcons' first home game since their old home, the Georgia Dome, was imploded on Monday . Koetter, the former Falcons offensive coordinator, is eager to see the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which was built beside the old facility.'I've heard it's awesome,' Koetter said. 'I am anxious to see it. I always thought the Georgia Dome was dark and had bad acoustics. I couldn't hear a word anybody said in there.'90-GAME MILESTONES WITHIN REACH: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is on the brink of setting new NFL standards for catches and yards receiving in the first 90 games of a career. Jones has 551 catches. He needs eight receptions to pass Anquan Boldin's record of 558. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown is second with 554.Jones has 8,396 yards receiving. He needs 107 yards to pass Lance Allworth's 90-game record of 8,502.WARD VS. WARD: Terron Ward moved up the depth chart with Freeman's concussion. As Coleman's top backup, there is a greater chance he'll go against older brother T.J. Ward, Tampa Bay's backup safety. The head-to-head competition is rare for the brothers.'We never played against each other,' said Terron Ward of the brothers' childhood, noting he is 5 years younger than his 30-year-old brother and the two would play together against cousins.'We used to get out there at Thanksgiving and Christmas, two on two,' he said. '... It would go back and forth so it's always been fun.'___For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL