Maybe last week was a little too soon for some fans to start letting their minds even entertain the ‘P’ word.

The Bucs saw 6-6 last year and that didn’t end so well. Last week’s win, no matter how big it may have been, got the overall record to 6-5.

How about now?

Playoffs.

If it ended right now, your Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in as the NFC’s sixth seed. Sunday’s 28-21 cross-country win in San Diego boosted the Bucs to 7-5 overall and into a first-place tie for the NFC South lead with Atlanta. The Falcons own the tie-breaker at the moment because of their 3-1 division record compared to the Bucs’ mark of 2-1. The teams split their season series and are both 5-3 against conference foes.

There is still plenty of work to do, but the goal’s attainability seems more and more realistic by the week. Players were given red t-shirts with “California Dreamin’ ” splashed across the back last year because the Super Bowl was being held in San Francisco. It felt like another ‘P’ word should have been inserted in the middle – as in “California (Pipe) Dreamin’.” Leading up to Sunday’s game in San Diego, head coach Dirk Koetter was going for a “California sweep” of the team’s two road games in the Golden State. That felt real. And the Bucs went out and did work.

Adding to Bucs fans’ optimism was how Sunday played itself out. Tampa Bay winning was, and always is, objective number one. Both teams ahead of the Bucs in the NFC standings entering the day – the New York Giants (8-4) and Washington Redskins (6-5-1) – both lost. Also finishing as Sunday losers were division foes Atlanta (7-5), the New Orleans Saints (5-7) and the Carolina Panthers (4-8). The Saints were right on the Bucs’ heels but now sit two games back in third place. Minnesota (6-6) getting nipped by the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football didn’t hurt, either.

As it stands right now, the NFC East-leading Cowboys (11-1) top the conference standings, followed by the NFC West-leading Seahawks (8-3-1), the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (8-4), the NFC South-leading Falcons (7-5), the fifth-seeded Giants (8-4) and the sixth seeded Bucs (7-5).

Seattle remained the conference’s second seed heading into Week 14 with Sunday night’s win over Carolina. The Panthers’ playoff hopes were just about squashed with the defeat.

Tampa Bay’s remaining schedule begins with a home date with New Orleans next week. After that it’s at Dallas, at New Orleans, and home against Carolina.

COMPETITORS’ FINAL SCHEDULES
Atlanta Falcons (7-5)
@ Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers
@ Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1)
@ Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams
Arizona Cardinals
@ San Francisco 49ers

Detroit Lions (8-4)
Chicago Bears
@ New York Giants
@ Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers

New York Giants (8-4)
Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions
@ Philadelphia Eagles
@ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (6-5-1)
@ Philadelphia Eagles
Carolina Panthers
@ Chicago Bears
New York Giants

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

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

Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1)
@ Miami Dolphins
New Orleans Saints
@ Seattle Seahawks
@ Los Angeles Rams

New Orleans Saints (5-7)
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Arizona Cardinals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Atlanta Falcons

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Washington Redskins
@Baltimore Ravens
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys

Carolina Panthers (4-8)
San Diego Chargers
@ Washington Redskins
Atlanta Falcons
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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seat26
4 years ago

Great Team effort. Defense played inspired football. Winston has another big day. Winning the Division is not out of reach. If we can win 3 out of the next 4 games to finish off the season, Brate, I am your biggest fan. Keep on keeping on, you are becoming one of our best players.

Twistedwires
Reply to  seat26
4 years ago

A few weeks ago when VJax went down, Doug was hurt, and OSJ was sent away, there was a lot of talk about the Bucs offense being only Mike Evans. As fans it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of only seeing the stars. But opposing defenses actually have to game plan against all of the real people lining up; including people not yet considered stars by the talking heads on TV or the fans. They have to cover Martino, and Humphries, and yes, Brate. Cam has been really fun to watch. I actually called his name right before… Read more »

plopes808
4 years ago

Things are getting real now! Dallas will be the toughest test remaining, but they may be resting starters by the time we play them. If we can slow down Drew Brees, I can see our offense carving up their D for another 2 division wins. The Panthers are well…the Panthers so I’m seeing worse case scenario we finish the season going 3-1. One more good draft and we run the south. Go Bucs!

bucballer
4 years ago

If Bucs can slow Drew Brees and the Saints next weekend, it could possibly set up a huge national audience game with 8-5 Bucs vs 12-1 Cowboys in Dallas! The Bucs do play better on the road! It could happen Buc’s fans. Concerned a little about the injuries. It was nice to J. Rodgers back today! He will be a big help down the stretch. Gotta love consecutive wins against Bears, Kansas City, Seattle, and San Diego! Go Bucs!

seat26
Reply to  bucballer
4 years ago

Stocker got banged up too. Although I am not sure in his five yrs here that he has ever played two full games in a row.

bucballer
4 years ago

The C. Shorts injury was quite scary! Kid could have broken his Neck! Godsspeed in your recovery Shorts! Glad it wasn’t your neck or something horribly worse! Go Bucs!

cgmaster27
Reply to  bucballer
4 years ago

Honestly from initial words, ‘d be shocked if shorts ever played again. Word is he torn every ligament in his knee and dislocated his knee cap. That’s Terrible. Wish him well. Things like that are going to happen as these Db’s are diving for the knees now as they can’t hit high.

artpac
4 years ago

One game at a time. Beat New Orleans, and we get to 8-5.

SaskBucs
4 years ago

The team obviously can’t get ahead of itself…. but we can. I see a lot of 10-6 …9-7 records coming out of that NFC side. 3-1 gets it done. Vikings Packers Redskins Lions…. 9-7 (9-6-1 skins). Your welcome for the bold prediction.

scubog
4 years ago

I know we all look at Atlanta’s remaining schedule and see them winning out giving them a better Conference record even if the “good guys” also win out. Thus the NFC South Division championship seems unlikely. But what appears to be an easy forecast doesn’t mean it will fall into place the way the prognosticators predict it will. After getting stunned by the Chiefs the Falcons must now go all the way to L.A.; possibly without the services of Julio Jones. Victory is not guaranteed in this league. Mighty Bucs just need to take care of what we can control.… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

Scubog – never count out New Orleans or even Carolina when it comes to predicting Falcs game outcomes – each is capable of whipping the Falcs on a good day. They may not be having good seasons, but they’re not quitting. Same thing applies to the Bucs, of course. It is never easy winning two against the Saints, and when CAR comes to town that is going to be a brawl. Frankly, I even like our chances against the Boys … they’re good, but they’re not as good as their record says, as they’re starting to just barely eke out… Read more »

Naplesfan
4 years ago

Our sole goal, other than winning each game as it comes up, per Coach Koetter’s “one game at a time” mindset, is to win the NFC South Division Championship. We can win it. We’re tied with Atlanta, and they could very easily lose two or three of their remaining games (Rams, Saints, and Panthers). The dirty birds have a habit of crapping out in December, and they started that trend again yesterday. Our Bucs are playing competitive ballwith any team in the league right now, and we could – not “easily”, but plausibly – win three of our remaining four… Read more »

Garv
4 years ago

One game at a time. Koetter’s mantra remains true. The Buccaneers are preparing to win the next game and have not let up. I was worried about San Diego, the long road trip after the hype of the three game winning streak and beating KC and the Seahawks back to back. But the young Buccaneers continue to play the next game as if it’s the most important game of the season.

Keep it UP! LOVING it in SRQ!

chetthevette
4 years ago

The common theme here seems to be 1 game at a time for the BUCS.
Maybe, just maybe the Giants will stub their toe. 3 divisional games and the Lions. Hard to believe I just said the Lions.
This is turning out to be a great season for BUCS fans.
GO BUCS