Not long after the dust – or ground rubber particles on the Mercedes-Benz Dome turf – settled on Saturday evening following Tampa Bay’s 31-24 loss to New Orleans, the biggest question was, can the Bucs still make the playoffs?
Amateur Twitter accounts, national websites and all the local media outlets tried to determine what it would take for the Buccaneers to make the NFL’s annual postseason tournament.
Due to the fact some games were yet to be played, and the fact you almost need to be a NASA rocket scientist to figure out the formulas this late in the season, there was never a definitive answer, or at least one that was 100 percent accurate.
Two days later there is still some uncertainty, but according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, who some feel may actually be a rocket scientist as a hobby, the Bucs do in fact have a chance. It starts with a Tampa Bay win against Carolina on Sunday, January 1.
Of course Kate Upton could also see my Twitter profile picture, leave Justin Verlander, and move to Florida and serve me mojitos in a bikini for the rest of my life also.
Okay, the Bucs do have slightly better odds than that.
But not by much.
According to Auman, one of the things that could push the Bucs into the playoffs would be another tie by the Washington Redskins.
“One of the four things the Bucs needed to set up a 9-7 tiebreaker with the Packers was the Redskins losing to the Giants, but as it turns out, a Redskins tie with the Giants next week also gets the Bucs in. There’s a scenario where the Bucs and Packers are 9-7 and the Redskins finish 8-6-2 (yes, two ties in one season). The league treats a tie as a half-win, so 8-6-2 is the same as 9-7. So it goes to conference record as a tiebreaker, and the Bucs and Packers would be 7-5, but the Redskins would be 6-5-1, which leaves the Bucs and Packers back in that same tiebreaker we thought the Bucs had lost.”
Dallas has to beat Detroit on Monday Night Football or the rest of scenarios don’t matter, including the Bucs beating the Panthers on Sunday. Dallas also has to win next week against Philadelphia, Detroit then has to beat Green Bay, Tennessee has to beat Houston, San Francisco has to beat Seattle, Indianapolis has to be Jacksonville … and the Redskins have to tie the Giants.
The Redskins already have one tie this season, so the odds of another happening, well … let’s just say the Buccaneers made improvements this season and have a whole offseason upcoming to fill some holes and compete again next year.
All of a sudden, flashbacks to Jameis Winston’s overthrow to Vincent Jackson late in the fourth quarter against the Rams make Bucs fans break out in a cold sweat and itchy hives. Or the team’s inability to capitalize on the Raiders’ 132 penalties back in an overtime loss in October. Or a handful of other plays throughout the season that could have been the difference in a win instead of a Buccaneer loss.
A bounce here. A favorable spot or call there.
Enough to make Bucs fans, players and every member of the Tampa Bay organization ask the “what if?” question until training camp starts up again in July of 2017.
And if someone sees Kate, let her know I’ll take a classic mimosa to start with, then bring me a champagne grapefruit mojito for lunch.