NFL.com Blogger and long time Pewter Report subscriber Jason De La Torre contributes his unique look at the Bucs playoff chances this week.
Thanks to last minute craziness in Washington and a major injury for one of their chief competitors, things look a bit more optimistic for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' playoff hopes as we move into Week 15. There are some huge games this week that Buccaneers fans may want to keep a close eye on.
Before we get into that though, let's take a look at the breakdown. Current NFC StandingsSeed Team W-L Div Rec Con Rec Final Opponents
1) Atlanta 11-2 4-0 8-1 @SEA, NO, CAR
2) Chicago 9-4 4-0 7-3 @MIN, NYJ, @GB
3) Philadelphia 9-4 3-1 6-3 @NYG, MIN, DAL
4) St. Louis 6-7 2-2 4-6 KC, SF, @SEA
5) New Orleans 10-3 3-1 8-2 @BAL, @ATL, TB
6) NY Giants 9-4 2-2 7-2 PHI, @GB, WAS
Tampa Bay 8-5 2-3 6-3 DET, SEA, @NO
Green Bay 8-5 3-2 6-4 @NE, NYG, CHI
Seattle 6-7 3-2 5-4 ATL, @TB, STL
San Francisco 5-8 3-1 3-7 @SD, @STL, ARI This Week's NFC Clinching Scenarios
Atlanta can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Seattle OR a loss by one of the following: Giants, Packers, Bears.
New Orleans can clinch a playoff spot with a victory AND loss by Tampa Bay AND NY Giants OR Green Bay OR Chicago
Chicago can clinch the NFC North title with a victory AND a loss by Green Bay 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
Buffalo did damage to the Bucs' Strength of victory by beating Cleveland.
The Bucs found a way to survive in rainy Washington.
Atlanta steamrolled Carolina, doing nothing for the Bucs' SOV.
The Giants overcame the deflation of the Metrodome roof to beat the Vikings in Detroit, putting the Bucs in a precarious situation
Detroit knocked out Aaron Rodgers and dealt a serious blow to Green Bay's playoff hopes
The Steelers pounded Cincy - another SOV loss for the Bucs.
Saints beat down the Rams, inching closer to a playoff berth.
New England pummelled Chicago in blizzard-like conditions.
Philly outlasted Dallas. Why are the Bucs not among the playoff six?
Chicago (9-4) is the 2nd seed as the leader of the NFC North based on head-to-head with Philadelphia.
Philadelphia (9-4) is the 3rd seed as the leader of the NFC East based on head-to-head with the NY Giants.
St. Louis (6-7) 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 Cast
If the Bucs Win Out (3-0)
Last week I said there was no scenario that puts the Buccaneers out at 11-5. Unfortunately, I was wrong about that. There's one doomsday scenario for the Buccaneers and it involves two key games. First and probably most important - Philly at the Giants. Second - New Orleans at Atlanta in Week 16. If the Giants lose to Philadelphia but beat Green Bay and Washington - they will be a playoff team at 11-5. The focus turns to New Orleans. The game against Baltimore at this point is irrelevant in this scenario. If the Saints beat Atlanta, even if the Buccaneers beat New Orleans in the season finale, they are still out. The Giants will have the Buccaneers on strength of victory and even if New Orleans would lose to Baltimore, in an 11-5 tie-breaker, a win over Atlanta would give the Saints a better division record than the Buccaneers and knock them out of the playoffs.
The NFC East will essentially be decided Sunday in the game between the Giants and Eagles. A Giants win and they'd have to blow their final two games not to win the division. An Eagles win and the Giants are playing for a wildcard.
There's really no hope for a strength of victory tie-breaker win over any team in the NFC, even with a Bucs win in New Orleans. However, the Bucs do have some conference record advantages over Green Bay, Chicago, and Philadelphia if they become tied with one of those teams.
The best scenario for Tampa Bay is for New York to beat Philadelphia, then win one of their last two to secure the division. That frees New Orleans to beat Baltimore and Atlanta, clinching a playoff berth for them and rendering the final game meaningless for the Saints, increasing the Bucs chances of taking the season finale. Green Bay's loss to Detroit makes them essentially a non-factor at 11-5 with the Bucs owning a better conference record. Same goes for Philly if they lose to the G-men. Bucs have them on Conference record if both finish 11-5.
If the Giants do lose to Philly, the Bucs would need Green Bay to rise from the dead in week 16 (assuming they lose to New England for their sixth loss) and beat the Giants, dealing them their 6th loss.
At the very least, for the Bucs to control their own destiny going into Week 17, either Giants in Week 15 OR the Packers OR Falcons in Week 16 will need to win. If none of those happens, the Bucs are going to be hoping that a Rex Grossman-led Washington Redskins can knock the Giants out of the playoffs in the final week of the season. If the Bucs go 2-1
A loss in any of the last three games severely damages the Bucs post season hopes. 10-6 likely will not get you into the playoffs this season in the NFC. Still, there are some scenarios we can look at if the Bucs finish 10-6.
If the Giants lose to Philadelphia, they'll need to lose to Washington for the Bucs to win the tie-breaker at 10-6 based on the common opponents tie-breaker (assuming the Bucs two victories come against Detroit and Seattle) AND Green Bay to lose to New York OR Chicago in the season finale (assuming they lose this week at New England) OR Chicago to lose to Minnesota and Green Bay, dropping them to 10-6 and giving the Packers the NFC North.
If Green Bay beats the Giants and Bears to force a three way tie for the final playoff spot, Green Bay's victory over the Giants would give them head-to-head, knocking out the Giants and then their strength of victory would knock out the Bucs (Tampa Bay would no longer have the conference record edge), giving the Packers the 6th seed.
If the Giants beat Philadelphia - the Bucs would need the Eagles to lose to either Minnesota OR Dallas AND Green Bay to lose to New York OR Chicago in the season finale (assuming they lose this week at New England) OR Chicago to lose to Minnesota and Green Bay, dropping them to 10-6 and giving the Packers the NFC North.
If the Bucs lose to Detroit or Seattle - Tampa Bay would need beat New Orleans AND for the SAINTS to also lose to Baltimore and Atlanta OR for one of the scenarios above to play out. A loss to Detroit or Seattle ruins any chance the Bucs have at a common opponents tie-breaker victory over the Giants. In this scenario, If the Giants lose to Philadelphia the Bucs would need New York to lose their final two games as well and finish at 9-7. If the Bucs go 1-2
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.
If the Eagles beat the Giants, the Bucs will have no chance to make the playoffs at 9-7 as the worst the Giants can finish is 9-7 and we know the tie-breakers do not work for Tampa Bay.
If the Giants beat Philadelphia, the Bucs would need the Eagles to lose their last two games as well, finishing at 9-7. They would also need either Green Bay or Chicago to lose out. The Bucs would beat the Eagles with conference record and they would beat Chicago with common opponents. If Green Bay loses out, they finish 8-8. If the Bucs go 0-3
They'll be out.
Earliest the Bucs can clinch a playoff berth
Week 16 - the Bucs could secure a playoff berth by Week 16 if the following happens: Bucs win both their games, Giants beat Philadelphia, New England beats Green Bay in Wk 15 AND Philadelphia loses to Minnesota, the Giants beat Green Bay in Week 16. Who to root for in Week 15--- Detroit @ Tampa Bay
- The Bucs need to win this game. Obviously root for Tampa Bay Philadelphia @ NY Giants
- We've talked ad nausem about this one, folks. This is the game that really holds the Bucs playoff chances in the balance. A win by the Giants and the Bucs would be sitting pretty for a post-season berth. A loss and the Bucs are going to need some help. Root with everything you got for the G-men. New Orleans @ Baltimore
- In the grand scheme of things, this game doesn't really effect the Bucs playoff chances - however, if you're one of the folks who would like for the Saints to be clinched by the time Week 17 rolls around, root for New Orleans. Green Bay @ New England
- Without Aaron Rodgers, things look bleak for the Pack. Root for the Patriots to keep rolling and deliver another body blow to Green Bay. Chicago @ Minnesota
- Depending on how things turn out with their own games, the Bucs may need Chicago to keep reeling a bit. Root for Minnesota to get back on track sans Favre.
That's it for this week. All the Bucs can do is keep winning and hope things break right around them.
We'll be back next week with updated scenarios and possibilities.
Stay thirsty for Bucs football, my friends!
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