The big news is this weekend for Tampa Bay is that the Bucs didn’t lose any ground in the NFC playoff picture during the bye week. While the Saints clinched a playoff spot by beating the Falcons and moving to 10-2, the Rams and Vikings also scored key wins to help their playoff hopes, while several other NFC teams lost on Sunday and cost themselves some valuable ground in the race to the postseason.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs still have the No. 6 seed in the NFC, which will welcome the top seven teams into the playoffs. The Packers assumed the No. 2 seed again with a win over the Eagles, while the Rams moved ahead of the Seahawks due to their win over the Cardinals. Seattle, which previously had the No. 2 seed as the NFC West leader, lost to the New York, which hurt its chances and helped the Giants’ chances of winning the NFC East where they are the current leader. Washington beat Pittsburgh on Monday night, but the Giants swept the series and have the tie-breaker.

The Seahawks are now the No. 5 seed, and are a game ahead of the Bucs at 8-4. Speaking of the Bucs, their opponent this Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings, beat the Jaguars in overtime to move to 6-6 on the season and help their playoff odds.

Here’s what is at stake this Sunday in Tampa Bay. If the Bucs win they’ll move to 8-5 on the year and keep their playoff hopes alive by at the very least clinging to the No. 6 playoff spot, while the Vikings would fall to 6-7. If Minnesota prevails on Sunday, both the Bucs and the Vikings would be 7-6 and Tampa Bay wouldn’t have the head-to-head tiebreaker, which could come into play later in December depending on how the wins and losses shake out for both teams. The Vikings have won two games in a row and have a record of 4-1 in the last five games.

Here is a current look at the NFC playoff picture entering Week 13.

CURRENT NFC PLAYOFF TEAMS

1. Saints (NFC South leader) – 10-2 overall / 5-0 division / 8-1 conference

Remaining games: at Eagles (3-8-1), vs. Chiefs (11-1), vs. Vikings (6-6), at Panthers (4-8)

2. Packers (NFC North leader) – 9-3 overall / 3-1 division / 7-2 conference
Remaining games: at Lions (5-7), vs. Panthers (4-8), vs. Titans (8-4), at Bears (5-7)

3. Rams (NFC West leader) 8-4 overall / 2-2 division / 8-2 conference
Remaining games:
vs. Patriots (6-6), vs. Jets (0-12), at Seahawks (8-4), vs. Cardinals (6-6)

4. NY Giants (NFC East leader) 5-7 overall / 3-2 division / 4-6 conference
Remaining games:
vs. Cardinals (6-6), vs. Browns (9-3), at Ravens (6-5), vs. Cowboys (3-8)

5. Seahawks (First wild card) 8-4 overall / 2-2 division / 6-3 conference
Remaining games:
vs. Jets (0-12), at Washington (5-7), vs. Rams (8-4), at 49ers (5-7)

6. Buccaneers (Second wild card) – 7-5 overall / 2-2 division / 4-4 conference

Remaining games: vs. Vikings (5-6), at Falcons (4-8), at Lions (5-7), vs. Falcons (4-8)

7. Vikings (Third wild card) – 6-6 overall / 3-1 division / 4-4 conference
Remaining games:
at Bucs (7-5), vs. Bears (5-7), at Saints (10-2), vs. Lions (5-7)

IN CONTENTION

8. Cardinals – 6-6 overall / 2-2 division / 4-4 conference
Remaining games:
at Giants (5-7), vs. Eagles (3-8-1), vs. 49ers (5-6), at Rams (8-4)

9. 49ers – 5-7 overall / 2-2 division / 3-5 conference
Remaining games: vs. Washington (5-7), at Cowboys (3-8), at Cardinals (6-6), vs. Seahawks (8-4)

10. Bears – 5-7 overall / 1-3 division / 5-5 conference
Remaining games: vs. Texans (4-8), at Vikings (6-6), at Jaguars (1-11), vs. Packers (9-3)

11. Lions – 5-7 overall / 1-3 division / 4-5 conference

Remaining games: vs. Packers (9-3), at Titans (8-4), vs. Bucs (7-5), vs. Vikings (6-6)

12. Washington – 5-7 overall / 3-2 division / 3-5 conference

Remaining games: at 49ers (5-7), vs. Seahawks (8-4), vs. Panthers (4-8), at Eagles (3-8-1)

13. Falcons – 4-8 overall / 1-3 division / 2-8 conference
Remaining games: at Chargers (3-9), vs. Bucs (7-5), at Chiefs (11-1), at Bucs (7-5)

14. Eagles – 3-8-1 overall / 2-2 division / 3-5 conference

Remaining games: vs. Saints (10-2), at Cardinals (6-6), at Cowboys (3-8), vs. Washington (5-7)

15. Cowboys – 3-8 overall / 1-3 division / 3-6 conference
Remaining games: at Ravens (6-5), at Bengals (2-9-1), vs. 49ers (5-7), vs. Eagles (3-8-1), at Giants (5-7)

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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Pete Wood
6 months ago

I think the Bucs win their final four games and clinch the fifth seed. Here’s the thing about these playoff scenarios. If the Bucs don’t win the majority of their remaining games, they’re toast in the playoffs anyway. So, no manner how many tie breakers go the Bucs way, if the slip in by the hair of their chinny chin chin, because some other team loses more, it really doesn’t matter. They ain’t going no place no time no how anyhow. The way I look it. All four of the remaining games are must win games or else we are… Read more »

fredster
6 months ago

The last couple games against Rams and Chiefs had playoff implications too and Bucs did not rise to the occasion. If they can’t win at least 3 (4would be better) of the remaining games against losing teams, after a bye, then they don’t belong in the playoffs. Will see how it plays out. They don’t make me very confident if I’m being honest. Will see I guess. Not running the ball and pass happy isn’t working and it looks like Arians won’t change for anything. Bowles soft zone and our shit secondary won’t work either on any good teams.

Spruce
Reply to  fredster
6 months ago

This Vikings team is really tough and on a roll. The game is going to be tough.

surferdudes
6 months ago

Last stretch of the season and all of a sudden our last four games aren’t looking like they’re going to be easy. Lions, Atlanta, and Minn, are all playing very well. Don’t let Atl losing to N.O. fool you. The Saints might have the best defense of all teams heading into the playoffs. This game is huge. Will we rise up? We’re only a game better then the Vikes right now. If that changes Monday, we’re in trouble.

awwdembucs
6 months ago

I’m concerned about Atlanta. They have been playing much better lately. You can bet all the ex Bucs coaches would love to beat us.Go Bucs

Spruce
Reply to  awwdembucs
6 months ago

Looking ahead bad. You should be conerned about a very good Vikings team.

twspin
6 months ago

If we are who we have been lead to believe we are, Then the new Mantra is..RUN THE TABLE with these last 4 games.If we don’t beat the Vikes, we surely will not whip the Falcons twice. Whats worrisome about the Vikes is their QB is mobile and can throw on the run and find open receivers under duress. Ours cannot. And the Falcons look like an entirely different team under Morris. Put up or shut up. This is truly the no excuses time.Time to live up to your hype Bucs. Batter up Baby!!

drdneast
6 months ago

Our coaches need to prepare the players better, come up with better game plans and be able to adjust quicker to what is happening on the field and to communicate it effectively to the players. I thought the Broncos were going to get their butts kicked last night but they came out well prepared to handle the Chiefs and kept their offense in check for most of the game. They also ran the ball down their throats. You can’t come out of the tunnel and look up at the scoreboard and it’s 17, 24 or 10 to 0. That’s a… Read more »

Horse
6 months ago

Here’s what I know? Unless our team gets it together now, we won’t make the Playoffs. The other day I thought winning 3 out of 4 games would do it, but our first real test is the Vikings who continues to improve; same for the Falcons and Lions. If we play our usual schemes; we are in trouble. The wake up call is NOW!

BigSombrero
6 months ago

Contrary to the “all or nothing” opinions, the Bucs don’t have to win all their remaining games to be successful in the playoffs. One game at a time. If they totally dominate every game for the remainder of the season, it guarantees nothing on the road in round 1. If they sneak past a few teams or even lose a few remaining games, it guarantees nothing on the road in round 1. That said, I expect the Bucs to come out firing and try to put this game away immediately. They need to shake their slow starts and the Vikes… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  BigSombrero
6 months ago

Agree. They have to move from “talk the talk” to “walk the walk”.

SaskBucs
6 months ago

I’m inclined to agree with Sombrero here, although I think 3 wins are needed to reach the playoffs, how those wins happen is irrelevant to round 1. Obviously I would feel more comfortable if the team was clicking, calling better game plans and letting Rojo run more but this staff has proven that week to week they could be well prepared or completely unprepared. None of the remaining 4 games worry me. Vikings the most if that offense is hot, but all 3 defenses can be exposed and Atlanta has virtually no run game and an Oline that Barrett and… Read more »

Spruce
6 months ago

A previously very winnable game this has turned into incredibly bad timing to meet this team.. The have won 5 of 6 and could easily have had a couple more wins against Seattle and Tennessee. They smell the playoffs and will be loaded for bear.
This is the time of year emotion wins games and who wants it more. The Bucs do their sleep walking act early and they’ll find themselves behind the eight ball.
The good news is this is exactly the type of game you have Brady for.