For the first time since 2010, Bucs fans will be able to avoid claiming a losing football team. Sunday’s win over New Orleans secured the .500-guaranteeing eighth victory of the year.

But with three games remaining on the schedule, that’s not where fans, players, coaches or anyone around this organization wants to stop.

Not even close.

At 8-5 and tied for first place in the NFC South, it’s playoffs-or-bust time in Tampa Bay.

After the 4 o’clock games wrapped up, the Bucs’ situation looked a lot like it did coming into the day. If it ended at that point, Tampa Bay would be in the tournament as the NFC’s second wild card qualifier. Atlanta still owns the tiebreaker based on having a better winning percentage against common opponents. The Bucs and Falcons split their head-to-head series and own identical records in the division (3-1) and in the conference (6-3).

Depending on the outcome of Sunday night’s Dallas-New York Giants game, though, the Bucs could bump up to the fifth seed. A Giants loss would drop them to 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the NFC. Tampa Bay would be a game up on New York in the conference. [UPDATE: That didn’t play itself out Sunday night. The Giants’ 10-7 win improved their mark to 9-4 and left them in sole possesssion of the fifth seed.] 

Sunday night’s result has a big impact on next week’s Sunday night game in Dallas between the Bucs and Cowboys. Dallas could have sewn up the NFC East and taken another step toward securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Now the Giants not only own the head-to-head tie breaker over Dallas after dealing the Cowboys both of their losses this season, they could still win the division straight up.

Even with a victory this past Sunday night, the Cowboys would have still been dealing with breaking away from the Detroit Lions in terms of winning the conference. The Giants and Lions play a hugely impactful game in New York at 1 p.m. this upcoming week. That result combined with the Bucs-Cowboys final are sure to shake things up as the NFC playoff race hits the home stretch.

Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
San Francisco 49ers
@ Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
Los Angeles Rams
Arizona Cardinals
@ San Francisco 49ers

Detroit Lions (9-4)
@ New York Giants
@ Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers

New York Giants (8-4) [Sunday Night Football]
Detroit Lions
@ Philadelphia Eagles
@ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (7-5-1)
Carolina Panthers
@ Chicago Bears
New York Giants

Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
Indianapolis Colts
@ Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers (7-6)
@ Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings
@ Detroit Lions

Arizona Cardinals (5-7-1)
New Orleans Saints
@ Seattle Seahawks
@ Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints (5-8)
@ Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Atlanta Falcons

Philadelphia Eagles (5-8)
@Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys

Carolina Panthers (5-8)
@ Washington Redskins
Atlanta Falcons
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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Michael WestDominguez
Michael WestDominguez
5 years ago

Great Win Sunday, as someone said, not very pretty but the defense made big plays when they had to (hats off to Tandy who could have picked potentially 2 more from breese yesterday) and this is one of those games in the past that we would have let slip away which we did not. I think we have a good shot at beating Dallas next Sunday night as well. Even if we did lose another game (not saying we will or that I want us to for that matter) but take a look at the Lions and Giants final 3… Read more »

5 years ago

If the Bucs stop Elliot, or even slow him down, they will probably win. Which I think they will do just that. They have to make Dak beat them, and I don’t see that happening. I have never been a big fan of Dez Bryant, and I think he is a bit overrated. He’s good, but he definitely not the next coming of Michael Irvin like many think he is. Their defense is nothing to brag about either. So we just have to make sure we don’t beat ourselves. Go Bucs!