Tampa Bay is one win away from a 10-5 record and clinching a wild card playoff spot for the first time since making the playoffs in 2007 as 9-7 NFC South champions. The Bucs, who are 5-2 on the road, travel to Detroit to face a banged up 5-9 Lions team on Saturday, December 26 that doesn’t have much to play for the day after Christmas.
The Bucs’ 31-27 win over the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday kept the team as the No. 6 playoff seed behind the 9-5 Rams and the 8-6 Cardinals. If the playoffs were to start today, the Packers (11-3) would have the first-round bye and the Bucs would travel to Seattle to play the NFC West-leading Seahawks (10-4).
There were some significant developments in the NFC playoff picture on Sunday, as the Rams were upset by the previously win-less Jets. That loss moved the Bucs into a tie with the Rams in terms of 9-5 records, but Los Angeles holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tampa Bay, so it’s holding on to the No. 5 playoff spot for the time being.
Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
However, if the Bucs were to win out against the Lions and the Falcons, and the Rams were to lose to either the Seahawks (10-4) or the Cardinals (8-6), then Tampa Bay would move up to the No. 5 seed in the NFC and play the winner of the NFC East division, which is currently Washington (6-8). Yet with two games remaining, all four teams in the NFC East are still mathematically alive to win the division because it’s been such a down year in Washington, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia.
There is still a slim, outside chance the Bucs win the NFC South. That would require Tampa Bay to win its final two games and for New Orleans (10-4) to lose its final two games. The Saints, who have lost two straight for the first time this season, got Drew Brees back at quarterback on Sunday, and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bucs.
Here is a current look at the NFC playoff picture entering Week 15.
CURRENT NFC PLAYOFF TEAMS
Table of Contents
*1. Packers (NFC North leader) – 11-3 overall / 4-1 division / 9-2 conference
Remaining games: vs. Titans (10-4), at Bears (7-7)
*2. Saints (NFC South leader) – 10-4 overall / 5-0 division / 8-2 conference Remaining games: vs. Vikings (6-8), at Panthers (4-10)
*3. Seahawks (NFC West leader) – 10-4 overall / 2-2 division / 7-3 conference
Remaining games: vs. Rams (9-5), at 49ers (5-9)
4. Washington (NFC East leader) – 6-8 overall / 3-2 division / 4-6 conference Remaining games: vs. Panthers (4-10), at Eagles (4-9-1)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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