NFL.com Blogger and long time Pewter Report subscriber Jason De La Torre contributes his unique look at the Bucs playoff chances this week.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' collapse against the Atlanta Falcons did more damage to their playoff hopes than one could imagine. Not only did the heartbreaking defeat rob the Bucs of their eighth victory, sixth conference win, and keep them within striking distance in the NFC South, it puts the Bucs behind the eight ball in the wildcard race. It certainly didn't help that for the second consecutive week - the Bucs got no help from other teams.
The Bucs are in a very precarious situation, folks - they have no choice but to win three of their final four games to even have a shot at the post season.Current NFC StandingsSeed Team W-L Div Rec Con Rec Final Four Opponents
1) Atlanta 10-2 3-0 7-1 @CAR, @SEA, NO, CAR
2) Chicago 9-3 4-0 7-3 NE, @MIN, NYJ, @GB
3) Philadelphia 8-4 2-1 5-3 @DAL, @NYG, MIN, DAL
4) St. Louis 6-6 2-2 4-5 @NO, KC, SF, @SEA
5) New Orleans 9-3 3-1 7-2 STL, @BAL, @ATL, TB
6) NY Giants 8-4 2-2 6-2 @MIN, PHI, @GB, WAS
Green Bay 8-4 3-1 6-3 @DET, @NE, NYG, CHI
Tampa Bay 7-5 2-3 5-3 @WAS, DET, SEA, @NO
Seattle 6-6 3-1 5-3 @SF, ATL, @TB, STL This Week's NFC Clinching Scenarios
No team in the NFC can clinch a playoff spot this week. Bucs' Playoff Clinching Scenarios
Tampa Bay cannot clinch a playoff spot this week. If the playoffs started today...
Atlanta and Chicago would have byes.
New Orleans would head to St. Louis and the NY Giants would be at Philadelphia in the WildCard round.
What Happened Last Week
Philadelphia took care of Houston on Thursday night football.
Atlanta rallied past the Bucs.
Chicago held off an upset bid by Detroit.
The Giants embarrassed Washington
Green Bay smacked around San Francisco
New Orleans rallied past Cincinnati Why are the Bucs not among the playoff six?
Philadelphia (8-4) is the 3rd seed as the leader of the NFC East based on head-to-head with the NY Giants.
St. Louis (6-6) is the 4th seed as the leader of the NFC West based on head-to-head with the Seattle Seahawks.
Sixth seed NY Giants have a better overall record than the Bucs. Future CastIf the Bucs Win Out (4-0)
Amazingly, Tampa Bay still controls it's own destiny, despite being a game behind the wildcard leaders and having the short end in most tiebreakers. The Buccaneers can still make the playoffs by winning the rest of their games. Luckily for the Bucs, they play the weakest remaining schedule of the contenders - only facing one team with a winning record the rest of the way.
Further, many of the teams in front of the Bucs will be playing each other, like Philly playing the Giants, Green Bay playing both the Giants and the Bears (not to mention the Patriots), the Saints play St. Louis, Atlanta (and Baltimore).
Even if all the contenders win all of the games their favored to win, there is literally no scenario that puts the Bucs out of the post season if they reach 11-5. If the Bucs go 3-1
A loss in any of the last four games would require Buc fans to become big Giants fans. Unless the Giants were to slip up and lose to Washington in Week 17 - in which would enable Tampa Bay to win the tie-breaker based on best record among common opponents - the Giants really need to win the NFC East. The Bucs would need the Giants to beat Philadelphia and Green Bay. That would set up the Chicago-Green Bay game as a winner in, loser out scenario. Philadelphia would need to take another defeat among Dallas (twice) and Minnesota.
If the Giants fail against Philly and Green Bay, the Bucs would need Giants to lose to either Minnesota or Washington to finish 9-7. They would also need Green Bay to win the NFC North and Chicago to finish with at least 6 losses.
If the Giants beat Philly but lose to Green Bay, the Bucs would need Green Bay to beat Chicago and win the NFC North (Bucs have Chicago on conference record) and either Philly lose to Dallas or Minnesota OR the Giants lose at Washington in week 17.
If the Giants lose to Philly but beat Green Bay, the Bucs would need the Giants to lose to Washington. It would also require the Bucs to beat Washington, Detroit, and Seattle or they lose the common opponents edge, forcing tie-breakers to the dreaded strength of victory tie-breaker that favors the G-men. The Green Bay-Chicago game would be a win in-loser out game. A Green Bay loss would put them at 9-7 (assuming a loss in New England) and a Chicago loss should put them at best at 10-6, where they'd lose the conference record tie-breaker to the Buccaneers. If the Bucs go 2-2
At 9-7, the Bucs chances are very slim to make the playoffs - however, there are a couple scenarios that would allow them to sneak in.
The Giants would have to lose out to finish 8-8 or the Eagles lose 3 of 4 to finish 9-7 plus Chicago would need to lose 3 of their last 4 to finish 9-7.
The Bucs would win conference record tie-breakers with both Chicago and Philly. Of course, if the Giants finish 8-8, they're out. If the Bucs go 1-3 or worse...
It would take a miracle. Earliest the Bucs can clinch the division title
The Bucs are pretty much out of the division race. Earliest the Bucs can clinch a playoff berth
Week 17 - With so many teams with 7 or more victories, it's going to go down to the final week. Who to root for in Week 14 Cleveland @ Buffalo
- While this game doesn't have any playoff implications in the AFC, a Cleveland victory would help the Bucs weak strength of victory. Root for the Brownies.Tampa Bay @ Washington
- We're really moving into must win zone here for the Buccaneers. A loss wouldn't eliminate the Bucs, but it would severely damage their playoff hopes - eliminating any chance for the Bucs to win a tie-breaker with the Giants.Atlanta @ Carolina
- If you still harbour some faint hope the Bucs can win the NFC South, somehow, some way the 1-11 Panthers would have to come up with the upset. Root for the Panthers.NY Giants @ Minnesota
- The Bucs really need the Giants to start taking some losses. Minnesota has been surging under interim head coach Leslie Frazier, root for old #4 (if he plays) and the men in purple to be blowing their horn an awful lot.Green Bay @ Detroit
- The Lions nearly pulled off a big upset over the Chicago Bears, root for them to seal the deal against the Pack.Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
- Another Strength of Victory game for Tampa Bay. Hope the Bengals can improve their record with an upset in Pittsburgh.St. Louis @ New Orleans
- The New Orleans Saints aren't out of the woods yet - conceivably the Bucs could still catch them. This loss would get the Bucs within striking distance with New Orleans still on the schedule. A Rams win would also strengthen the Bucs Strength of Victory (not to mention the Bucs could claim they have a win against a team with a winning record).New England @ Chicago
- The Patriots will have to overcome the Monday night hangover after an emotional game with NY Jets. A win by the Pats would put the Bears at 4 losses on the year. Hope Brady's bunch can keep it rolling.Philadelphia @ Dallas
- The Cowboys have been much more competitive under interim head coach Jason Garrett. Root for the Cowboys to get a big one over Michael Vick's Eagles.
And that ends this week's playoff madness. We'll be back next week with updated scenarios and more craziness.
Stay thirsty for Bucs football, my friends.
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