Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has been reminded fans, players and the media that his football team, despite having just one win prior to Sunday, was still in the NFC South playoff race. Many scoffed at Smith’s glass-half-full perspective, but looking at the standings following Sunday’s 27-7 win at Washington, Smith’s optimism doesn’t seem nearly as crazy.
While the Bucs are two wins out of first place, it is essentially three by way of the Falcons two wins head-to-head over the Bucs earlier this season, yet with the way the division is playing, Tampa Bay is still technically in the thick of things.
Tampa Bay (2-8) has Chicago, Detroit, and Carolina on the road and home games against Cincinnati, Green Bay and New Orleans to finish the season.
The division-leading Falcons (4-6) have road games left at New Orleans and Green Bay along with home games against Cleveland, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Carolina to close out the season.
Second place New Orleans (4-6) will travel to Pittsburgh, Chicago and Tampa Bay and home games against Baltimore, Carolina and Atlanta.
Carolina (3-7-1) still have to travel to Minnesota, New Orleans and Atlanta while still hosting Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
While it still a far-fetched idea that Tampa Bay could possibly qualify for the playoffs it isn’t out of the question based on the way the defense played on Sunday in Washington. If the Buccaneers do get in the mix, but miss out, they will certainly look back to the five fourth-quarter leads they surrendered in their first 10 games of the year.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com