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November 18, 2012 @ 6:04 pm
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PR Analysis: Bucs In The NFC Playoff Hunt

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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When the 2011 season ended with a crushing road defeat in Atlanta, even the most optimistic Bucs fan wouldn't admit to allowing the thought of a serious playoff run in 2012 to enter their mind. But 11 months later, Tampa Bay is now in control of its own destiny. Pewter Report breaks down 2012 NFC playoff picture.
With Tampa Bay’s stunning, come-from-behind 27-21 overtime win against the Carolina Panthers, the Buccaneers now sit at 6-4 and are currently tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the final NFC wild card spot.

When the 2012 season began, even the most optimistic Bucs fan would have to admit, the thought of Tampa Bay in the playoff mix halfway through November was a bit of a reach. But Greg Schiano’s never-say-die Bucs are without question legitimate playoff contenders.

The Buccaneers still have several tough match-ups left over their final six games, including facing the NFC South-leading Falcons twice, a road trip to Denver and a road rematch with the Saints, a home game with Philadelphia, before closing out the regular season at home against the Rams.

The current division leaders are Atlanta (9-1) in the NFC South, Chicago (7-2) in the NFC North, San Francisco (6-2-1) in the NFC West and the New York Giants (6-4) in the NFC East.  Below is a look at the teams Tampa By may need to fend off, or at the very least will be competing against, down the stretch in order to qualify for the playoffs as a wild card – assuming right now Atlanta's three-game lead over the Bucs holds up. But that could change as early as next week when the Bucs host the Falcons at Raymond James Stadium.

NFC Wild Card Playoff Contenders (2 spots available)
CURRENT 5TH SEED: Green Bay Packers (7-3)
The Packers, with a win over the Lions on Sunday, are in a battle with the Chicago Bears (7-2) for the division lead. Many feel the Packers could overtake the Bears and become the eventual NFC North champs. Regardless, it appears either the Packers or the Bears will be one of the NFC’s wild card representatives when the 2012 regular season concludes.

The Packers haven't looked like the same team over the last three seasons and have been beset with key injuries, but are still one of the more talented teams in the NFC.

Remaining Schedule: New York Giants (away), Minnesota (home), Detroit (home), Chicago (away), Tennessee (home), Minnesota (away)

CURRENT SIXTH SEED: Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
The Seahawks, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, share the final wild card spot with Tampa Bay and had a bye on Sunday. Wilson has struggled statistically for much of the season but continues to do just enough to win.

You would assume the Buccaneers would have advantage over Seattle based on quarterback play, however it isn’t a given. Seattle has a slight edge over Tampa Bay based on its 4-4 conference record as opposed to the Bucs' conference record, which is currently 3-4.

Remaining Schedule: Miami (away), Chicago (away), Arizona (home), Buffalo (away), San Francisco (home), St. Louis (home)

FIRST TEAM OUTSIDE THE PLAYOFFS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4)
The Buccaneers started the season 1-3 heading into their bye week, but have won five out of their last six contests, including a four-game stretch that has put Tampa Bay squarely in the NFC playoff picture. The Bucs are currently three games behind the NFC South division-leading Falcons, but will face Atlanta twice down the stretch with the opportunity to quickly gain some ground by either splitting the series or even sweeping the Falcons.

Remaining Schedule: Atlanta (home), Denver (away), Philadelphia (home), New Orleans (away), St. Louis (home), Atlanta (away)

SECOND TEAM OUTSIDE THE PLAYOFFS: Minnesota Vikings (6-4)
After a fast start the Vikings have cooled down and had lost three in a row before getting back on the winning track last week with a win. Minnesota QB Christian Ponder has struggled through the middle of the schedule, but a team with Adrian Peterson can’t be counted out.

The schedule down the stretch for the Vikings may be the toughest of any of the wild card contenders.

The Buccaneers do hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings courtesy of their 36-17 victory in Week 8 in Minneapolis.

Remaining Schedule: Chicago (away), Green Bay (away), Chicago (home), St. Louis (away), Houston (away), Green Bay (home)

THIRD TEAM OUTSIDE THE PLAYOFFS: Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
Dallas escaped with a 23-20 OT win at home against the lowly Browns on Sunday and aren’t completely out of the playoff race. But with the erratic play of quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett on the hot seat – and with owner Jerry Jones breathing down their necks – things don’t look too promising in Big D.

The Cowboys may be one of the most talented teams in the NFC but have a recent history of underachieving, and there is nothing to indicate the trend doesn’t continue in 2012.

Remaining Schedule: Washington (home), Philadelphia (home), Cincinnati (away), Pittsburgh (home), New Orleans (home), Washington (away)

THIRD TEAM OUTSIDE THE PLAYOFFS: New Orleans Saints (5-5)
Of all the teams the Buccaneers will need to stay ahead of the Saints may be the biggest threat. After an 0-4 start, New Orleans has won five of their last six, including knocking off the previously undefeated Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.

The Saints, like the Buccaneers, tend to give up a ton of points, but still have an offense that can score from anywhere on the field. The Saints have already beaten the Bucs once earlier this season and the Week 15 matchup in the Superdome against Tampa Bay could have huge playoff implications.

Remaining Schedule: San Francisco (home), Atlanta (away), New York Giants (away), Tampa Bay (home), Dallas (away, Carolina (home)

The Buccaneers and their fans still must play attention to the Redskins (4-6), who defeated the Buccaneers earlier this season, but Washington may need to win out to have shot this season.
Last modified on Friday, 23 November 2012 16:09
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I can't believe the Atlanta game will be blacked out. It just means the public in Tampa have not bought in to Schiano like the Bucs players have. However, the Bucs just need to beat the Falcons and I think that will really make believers of the public too. I am more than satisfied with this team no matter if they make the playoffs or not. If we get a legitimate cover corner in the first round, and pick up a fast decent CB in the later rounds (this upcoming draft is deep in good corners, thank goodness!) and if we can make Davis the new Defensive Coordinator next year, watch out for the 2013 Bucs!
  • avatar


    At the very least people- get the probowl votes out there for our players- no reason why Jackson and Martin don't make the trip to Hawaii- Last time I posted it looked like we were destined for another span in the toilet but on a dime the Bucs turned it around..the offense is impressive considering its front line has been frankensteined together for weeks..all this winning without Joseph and Nicks gives us tons of promise for next year..Though I think we will end up with the short end of the playoff stick,the new Bucs are lots of fun to watch....Happy Turkey Day Bucnation....
  • avatar

    I think we beat the falcons this week but get smoked by Manning because of our young and inexperienced corners. We crush the eagles and rams due to their lack of scoring a lot of points they wont keep up with our offense. Saints game will be the biggest game of the year for us..if we lose to the saints I dont think we make the playoffs unless we some how beat the broncos or sweep the falcons assuming we beat the eagles and rams. That being said all expectations i had have been met and them some. this team looks very good and if we can stay healthy next year theres no telling what this team is capable of.
  • avatar


    I think my very first post on PR (during the pre-season) said "this is a league of parity between almost all teams apart from maybe a couple at the top and a couple at the bottom. What will determine the Bucs success this year is injuries and turnovers". As it has turned out so far, we have done fantastic in the turnover column and have been getting dessimated in the injury column. Our record of 6-4 so far reflects these factors - while terrible injuries, we have to a large extent been able to replace those players with adequate (although not at the same calibre) efforts. In order to make the playoffs I suggest we'll need to continue this great performance on give-away/take-away ratio, and continue to overcome injuries (can Gaitor rejoin the secondary and make a difference with Wright going out?). If we do that, we'll be in, if we don't we'll still have had a great season. GO BUCS!
  • avatar


    What a fun season its been. All I was hoping was to be competitive this season. We've been MUCH more than just competitive. So glad we're winning some of these close games. Was a bit concerned, early on, that these heartbreak losses, along with the outside criticism of Shiano may cause our guys not to "buy in". They've certainly "bought in" and the rest of the season is a bonus. Next season, we well be a team to be reckoned with. Getting Joseph, Calyborn and Nicks back and with Bowers at 100%, and with the experience these young guys are gettin this year, along with a year under the new schemes, and some additions at CB and new draft...wow...we will be a "sexy" pick in some pundits eyes to go FAR. we will get some national attention next season.
  • avatar


    the hail mary in the seatle/gb game may totaly screw us! We either have to beat atl or at denver the following week. Maybe ATL rest their starters the last week of the season
  • avatar


    One game at a time....if we can just stay CLOSE we have a chance.....this team proved that this week. Could a, should a, would a, just one of thise early games we didn't close out and look where we would be. But that's the NFL....on any given Sunday.... GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • avatar


    Well I predicted 4 wins this season, so I have been eating a huge crow pie. I am glad the Bucs have made this an interesting season and since my greatest hope was for them to be competitive in every game, that hope has born fruit. It is a tough schedule to finish, but who knows what could happen. It is great to be in the conversation.
  • avatar


    Take the playoff opps when they come. While we may plan to be better in 2013, no guarantee we'll be in as good of a position as this! Hope Tampa can sell out the ATL game this week. Support your team!
  • avatar


    What Bucs fan would have predicted a wild card berth? Probably the one that didn't make ridiculous random statements when he didn't know anything about the offensive, defensive, special teams, head coaching or roster of this current team. Mark gets a pass because he has bills to pay-- We still get to play ATL twice. Notice I said get to. This team is still cooking, it's not done yet. Show of hands. How many people knew the TE when he made the TD catch? The announcers sure didn't. I swear I heard the papers rustling as they scurried to find his name.
  • avatar


    In the words of the Bucs first Pro Bowl player, Dave Pear, "Whoda thunk it?"
  • avatar


    Playoffs or no playoffs! Doesn't matter! I'm liking this! An ugly win is a win nonetheless and will only build character. Going forward everything looks brighter. No! Freeman didn't have a great day until the end (2 int's), but neither did Matt Ryan (5 int's) and they both won. Never look a gift horse in the mouth!
  • avatar


    Lets not discuss this until after the Atlanta Game.
  • avatar


    Tampa is fun to watch again. Great job coach Schiano.
  • avatar

    I see a 9-7 season for us will it be enough who knows but next yr watch out for this team
  • avatar


    We shouldn't have any problem winning the games against the Eagles and Rams, but after today's game I see that nothing is a given. However, if we win any of those other 4 games with the secondary we have I will be extremely impressed, playoffs or not.
  • avatar


    pinkstob, I am right with you.
  • avatar

    Agree, the fact we have a decimated OLine and playing with #3, #4, and #5 CBs on a regular basis is utterly amazing that we have reached 6-4 and are even in contention. As long as we stay competitive and fight every week, this team has a shot to win any game with that potent offense. Anyone thinking VJax wasnt the best signing of the offseason now?
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