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Down but not out.

That’s where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers find themselves after Sunday night’s loss at Dallas.

The Bucs entered the night clinging to the sixth and final NFC playoff slot but slipped back into the cluttered “Still In Contention” category with two games left to play. At 8-6, Tampa Bay is right behind new No. 6 seed Washington. But the Redskins play the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football and a Washington loss flips the Bucs right back into the postseason tourney.

Not helping the Bucs’ cause was Atlanta working over San Francisco to go a game up in the NFC South standings. Winning the division remains goal No. 1, but that just got a little harder.

Joining Tampa Bay as a current 8-6 Wild Card hopeful are the Green Bay Packers. If the season ended now, though, the Bucs would edge out Green Bay based on their higher winning percentage in common games played. They haven’t played head-to-head and both own 6-4 records against NFC opponents.

Tampa Bay wraps up its regular season with a road date in New Orleans this Saturday and a home finale against the Panthers. Atlanta plays the same opponents in reverse: at Carolina and then at home against New Orleans.

The best-case scenario is Tampa Bay winning out and Atlanta losing out or going 1-1, giving the Bucs their first NFC South crown since 2007. Winning out and the Falcons splitting would leave them tied at 10-6, but Tampa Bay would have the edge based on a better division record.

But even if Tampa Bay can’t catch the Falcons, there still remains a chance for the Bucs to get themselves up to the fifth seed. That would require the Bucs winning out and the New York Giants (10-4) losing out its final two road games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Washington. Tampa Bay would win a tie breaker because of a better conference record.

Adding another element of intrigue to Monday night’s Redskins-Panthers game is its potential implications on the Saints’ collective mindset coming into their Christmas Eve showdown with the Bucs. And maybe Week 17’s game between Tampa Bay and Carolina.

A Washington win on Monday Night Football effectively eliminates Carolina and New Orleans from playoff contention. Therefore, both teams would have nothing to play for other than bragging rights and pride in their games against the Bucs – and against the Falcons.

COMPETITORS’ FINAL SCHEDULES
Atlanta Falcons (9-5)
@ Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints

Detroit Lions (9-5)
@ Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers

New York Giants (10-4)
@ Philadelphia Eagles
@ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (7-5-1) [Monday Night]
@ Chicago Bears
New York Giants

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

Green Bay Packers (8-6)
Minnesota Vikings
@ Detroit Lions

New Orleans Saints (6-8)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
@ Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers (5-8) [Monday Night]
Atlanta Falcons
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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scubog
4 years ago

All of the playoff scenarios are mind-boggling. But hey, it’s a lot more fun than trying to determine our 2017 Draft position. This time a year ago some folks actually wanted the Bucs to lose the last two games to assure selecting in the top ten.

Anything can happen in the NFL. I just hope the mighty Bucs put the Dallas game behind them quickly. That Saints team and Drew Brees, who floundered a week ago at RayJay, sure lit up JonnyG’s Cardinals.

jongruden
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

I was one of those fans, once you become eliminated for playoffs there is no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL, so yes higher draft selection can be the difference of us drafting Broderick Thomas vs Derrick Thomas remember those meaningless victories at seasons end to miss out on future hall of famers? I do!

jongruden
Reply to  jongruden
4 years ago

Hell, if we had beaten Saints at seasons end we wouldn’t have had Jamies or Mariotta to select from as our future qb’s

scubog
Reply to  jongruden
4 years ago

Heck JonnyG we had fans here looking to lose games with four to go; play-offs or no play-offs. I was all in favor of tanking the Saints game, but when you’re sitting in the stands among the enemy fans chanting “Who Dat” it is a lot harder to be happy with loss than sitting in front of your TV in Arizona.

MWD
MWD
4 years ago

Ok, so how do we own the tie breaker with Green Bay? Someone help me out. I actually think Carolina has a shot at beating the Redskins tonight because I think Washington is underachievers in general. Charilus, absolutely terrible! I hope Dotson is back for next weeks game at NOLA. Winston, I love you as our QB, but man you have got to hit the deep ball, The one that humphries caught was a gift but his throws in general last night were a bit off i.e. under thrown, over thrown, short, high. To be one of the elite teams… Read more »

Randy H.
Reply to  Michael WestDominguez
4 years ago

You are right, the Bucs don’t own the tiebreaker, the Packers would get in on strength of victory.

wnb0395
Reply to  Randy H.
4 years ago

No we do own the tie breaker. Tampa Wins tie break over Green Bay based on best win percentage in common games.

Randy H.
Reply to  wnb0395
4 years ago

Then why are the Packers’ the 6th side now????

Randy H.
Reply to  Randy H.
4 years ago

Sorry, SEED?

surferdudes
4 years ago

I’m glad we’ll be picking around 20 this year, means we’re getting better. Less pressure picking there, on the club, and player. Good position for trades also. Just peaking ahead, because I’m totally focused on the next two weeks, we saw what a good O line looks like last night. I’m on the draft offensive line first round bandwagon.

Horse
4 years ago

All I care about is we win the next 2 games. New Orleans is capable in doing the same thing to us like the Cowboys just did if we don’t change the play schemes on offense and defense. Go Bucs! Find a way.

24/7BucFan
4 years ago

Bring on the Saints!!!! Go Bucs!!!!!

Randy H.
4 years ago

The Bucs’ would not be in as the 6th seed even if the Redskins lose–the Packers would be. Common games are a tie (SEA, DAL, CHI and ATL). The Packers would be in based on strength of victory.

MWD
MWD
Reply to  Randy H.
4 years ago

Randy, I still think the packers are going to win the north and Detroit loses out (Cowboys/Packers) in their last two games. Just my opinion and be optimistic here that our loss to the Cowboys does not necessarily burry us just yet.

Randy H.
Reply to  Michael WestDominguez
4 years ago

I agree with you. However the article stated that right now the Bucs have the tiebreaker on the Packers, but that is not correct.

MWD
MWD
4 years ago

That’s one I thought could have happened prior to last night…..The Redskins losing to Carolina

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