Remember when the Bucs were 6-6 last year and that ‘P’ work started getting thrown around?

In the mathematical sense, it was a completely accurate possibility. In terms of reality, there weren’t too many people penciling Tampa Bay into the playoffs with confidence.

Fast-forward to the same period a year later. The record is similar, but the vibe around this team is so much different.

A lot of the playoff talk last year was spoken in sarcastic tones. After Sunday’s 14-5 win over the Seattle Seahawks and last week’s 19-17 victory in Kansas City, making a run at either an NFC wild card berth or NFC South championship are both real, legitimate possibilities for a team that’s turning a corner.

Following the 4 o’clock games Sunday, Tampa Bay put itself right on the postseason’s doorstep. Six teams in both conferences qualify for the postseason and the Bucs are now the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They are tied at 6-5 with the Minnesota Vikings, but Tampa Bay has a better conference record (5-3 to 4-5). The Philadelphia Eagles play Monday night and could also improve to 6-5 with a win over the Green Bay Packers, but that win would make their conference record 4-5 and keep them behind the Bucs.

Cutting out secondary factors like conference records would be the ideal way to go, and that means overtaking the Atlanta Falcons atop the NFC South. The 6-5 Bucs are a game behind the 7-4 Falcons, and there are no more head-to-head opportunities since the teams already split their two-game series.

Of the five games remaining for Tampa Bay and Atlanta, only one opponent remains with a current winning record. The Bucs have to go to Dallas and play the 10-1 Cowboys in Week 15. The Falcons host 7-3 Kansas City next week as Tampa Bay travels west to 5-6 San Diego.

Of the five opponents remaining for Tampa Bay – at San Diego, New Orleans, at Dallas, at New Orleans, Carolina – their combined record is 29-26. As for Atlanta’s opposition – Kansas City, at Los Angeles, San Francisco, at Carolina, New Orleans – that combined record is 21-33.

Advantage Atlanta.

If the path to the Bucs’ first postseason appearance since 2007 comes via the wild card, Tampa Bay will need to bump out either the New York Giants or Washington Redskins. New York and its 8-3 record appear to give it a firm grip on the fifth seed, but that’s before looking at their final five games: at Pittsburgh (6-5), Dallas (10-1), Detroit (7-4), at Philadelphia (5-5), at Washington (6-4-1).

The Redskins’ schedule – at Arizona (4-6-1), at Philadelphia (5-5), Carolina (4-7), at Chicago (2-9), New York Giants (8-3) – sets up comparably to the Bucs’ situation and that tie game Washington had against Cincinnati could come into play in a big way.

And then there’s New Orleans (5-6), Arizona (4-6-1), Green Bay (4-6), Carolina (4-7) and Los Angeles (4-7).

San Francisco (1-10) is the only team to be eliminated already and Chicago (2-9) is on the cusp. So with five games to go – six for Philadelphia and Green Bay until they play Monday night – the possibilities are endless. There’s only one that matters to Bucs fans and as of right now, that possibility exists.

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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76Buc
76Buc
5 years ago

Playoffs! You talk’in bout playoffs? PLAYOFFs!!!:)

jiggyjoe
jiggyjoe
5 years ago

Playoffs! Yes I said playoffs. As long as we do not have to play New England and Brady we can beat any team…..

scubog
scubog
5 years ago

After the Bucs have dominated, yes dominated, the Bears , Chiefs and Seahawks (if not always evident on the scoreboard), this team looks capable of beating anyone if it continues to play like it has these past three weeks.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
5 years ago

I don’t put any stock in opponent win-loss records as a measure of toughness of remaining schedule. This is the NFL parity league, and literally, without any overstatement, BSing, or excessive use of cliche, anybody can beat anybody in any game of the season. Want proof? How many experts predicted the Bucs would be KC on the road and the Seahawks here at home, given that “the Bucs suck at home”? It was pretty close to zero. Yet we did. Every single game remaining is a one-game season. We can keep on winning games we’re not supposed to win ..… Read more »

WiltheBrewer
WiltheBrewer
5 years ago

Another good win against a heavyweight opponent -and a ‘W’ is a ‘W’, even by split decision. I just wish the Offense was able to score a KO once in awhile, and stop letting the other team off the ropes. Sure, it’s exciting, but the best teams know how to finish off an opponent. Nice team effort, though, and big win… congrats to the Bucs and all the fans who stayed til Winston took a final knee.