06 DEC 2015: during the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)
The Bucs are back to .500 thanks to Jameis Winston’s second fourth-quarter comeback in a 23-19 win over the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Both teams are 6-6, but Tampa Bay owns the tie-breaker over Atlanta after sweeping the series and improving to 3-1 in the NFC South division.
Despite the win, the Bucs are still one game out of the hunt for an NFC Wild Card playoff spot, trailing 8-4 Minnesota, who lost on Sunday and fell a half game behind Green Bay in the NFC North division, and 7-5 Seattle, who won. The Falcons are fading fast, having lost five straight games and six of their last seven.
After the big win, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said that his team has been in playoff mode for some time and that Tampa Bay likes needs to win all of its remaining games to qualify for the postseason as a Wild Card team.
“That is the message for us,” Smith said. “Yes, we don’t shy away from that at all. In order for us to have a chance, we need to win out. Simple as that. Winning out means winning your next game. We have a one-game season coming up. This big win allowed us to have another one-game season. There’s a lot on the line for next week.”
Tampa Bay hosts New Orleans next week to try to get over .500 for the first time since being 6-5 during the 2012 season. The Saints need to win out and receive some help in order to qualify for an NFC Wild Card spot.
Here’s a look at the NFC Playoffs picture following Tampa Bay’s loss:
Current NFC Division Leaders
NFC South: Carolina – 11-0
NFC West: Arizona – 10-2
NFC North: Green Bay – 8-4
NFC East: Washington– 5-6 (hasn’t played yet)
Current NFC Wild Card Race (2 Spots)
Minnesota – 8-4
Seattle – 7-5
Tampa Bay – 6-6 (Bucs have tie-breaker advantage over Falcons)
Atlanta – 6-6
New York Giants – 5-7
Chicago – 5-7
St. Louis – 4-8
New Orleans – 4-8
The Bucs are 6-6 – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
At 12-0, the Panthers have clinched a playoff spot and the NFC South title. The Bucs (6-6) are still very much alive for an NFC Wild Card playoff spot, while the Falcons (6-6) are reeling after losing five straight, including the tie-breaker to Tampa Bay. The Saints (4-8) are all but done. Tampa Bay and New Orleans face off at Raymond James Stadium next Sunday.
The Vikings (8-4) slipped behind the Packers (8-4) in the NFC North division race due to a loss to Seattle. Both teams appear to be playoff bound, barring a collapse down the stretch. The Bears (5-7) lost ground with an overtime loss to San Francisco, and are all but out of the playoff picture. The same could be said of Detroit (4-8), which lost a heartbreaker to Green Bay on a Hail Mary pass from Aaron Rodgers.
This division remains a muddled mess with neither Redskins (5-6) and Giants (5-7) having winning records, but Washington, which plays Dallas on Monday night, holds the tiebreaker for the lead for the NFC East crown. The Eagles (5-7) were thought to be all but out of the playoff picture, although after a big win on the road at New England, they may have found a renewed purpose. The Cowboys (3-8) are a disaster and are now without Tony Romo for the season.
The Cardinals (10-2) are on their way to clinching the NFC West title and a playoff berth. The Seahawks (7-5) remain alive for a Wild Card spot and even the division with two impressive wins against Pittsburgh and Minnesota in back-to-back games. The Rams (4-8) are in free fall and are almost eliminated. The same can be said for the 49ers (4-8), who beat the Bears in overtime on Sunday.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
One game at a time. Lets stay focused on the Saints.
agree with you Horse. This is fun
It won’t be this yr and thats ok, we will be there in a yr or two
Leave it to JonnyG to kill the mood. As long as the playoffs are a possibility, let’s enjoy it while we can…….this year.
want to live in fantasy land be my guest its not gonna happen this yr but maybe in a yr or two. I guess you can see I was right in 4 weeks
Its in NO WAY fantasy land. Get a clue.
Our upcoming schedule includes New Orleans, St Louis, Chicago, and Carolina. All VERY winnable games, especially when you consider the fact that Carolina’s starters will more than likely be resting.
You might be right in 4 weeks but I’m not going to tell a patient with little hope of survival he’s going to die.
Let’s just not call each game a “one game season”. Wasn’t that Schiano or Morris’ thing? That didn’t work out so well. Of course the point is obvious; win or you’re out. But I just don’t like the reminder of the past regimes. Lets call them what they are to us now; pre-playoff games. Or so we dream.
i get your point but it really is one game season time. as a team we have to focus on one team, not all 4. the pressure is high enough already, better to not make it worse.
We Lost to guy like hasselbeck, Cousins, Mallet, Mariota, and yet, I have to get a clue like I’m missing something here, lol ok whatever settle down folks we are a up and down team, watch the Colts Game if you forgot
You’re starting to sound like my old buddy BF-47. Maybe it’s the out of town thing. Him in Tennessee and you in Arizona. Also beat Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Last I knew they were pretty good.
Bucs have a decent shot at making playoffs. Yea they didn’t play great against Colts, but digging up old games when Winston hadn’t found his footing yet and we were still starting Jennings at corner isn’t fair at all to base saying they won’t make it. lets beat Saints and see how rest unravels. I for one am thrilled they have a shot in December and we aren’t already talking about how great our draft position will be drafting with 2 wins!
Im hoping for the best but this reminds of the year Buccs went 10-6 and missed the playoffs by one game. That one game was a loss to DET after a horrible offensive PI call on K2 in the end zone. Interestingly that loss allowed GB to sneak in as wild card and eventually win the Super Bowl. I just hope that one game that kills us isnt the loss to WAS. If only Sterling & Jude started that game we might be in the playoffs right now!
I think the best bet is to root for a Minnesota free fall, which is very possible. They have a tough schedule. Seattle plays cupcakes, they’re not going to lose often, but Minnesota could.
So happy we have a decent freakin QB- it seems like the decade plus drought might be over. Post season would be nice but I’m happy with us keeping it close and moving forward as a squad. The problem with a post season showing for me is that it likely means Lovie is back next season.im not sure if the team is playing for him and the amount of penalties we pick up is a sign of poor leadership or players lack of respect for the coach…Winston’s play will take us to the next level- it won’t be Lovies coaching…
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