There are seven games left in the Bucs’ 2021 regular season with Tampa Bay now 8-3, coming off a big, 38-31 win at Indianapolis. The Bucs are sitting pretty atop the NFC South division with a three-game cushion.
Tampa Bay, which travels to Atlanta on Sunday, currently has the third seed in the NFC playoff picture. The Bucs still have a shot at the No. 1 seed, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs, but will need help with a loss or two from the Cardinals.
Remaining: at Bears, vs. Rams, at Lions, vs. Colts, at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks
If Arizona wins out it claims the first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. That might be a tall order with games against the Rams, Colts and Cowboys looming.
No. 2 SEED: Packers (9-3)
Remaining: BYE, vs. Bears, at Ravens, vs. Browns, vs. Vikings, at Lions
How will Aaron Rodgers’ broken toe hold up down the stretch? After a week off to heal, Rodgers and the Pack have a few challenging games at Baltimore and against the Browns and Vikings down the stretch.
No. 3 SEED: Buccaneers (8-3)
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: USA Today
Remaining: at Falcons, vs. Bills, vs. Saints, at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers
The Bucs could win out – and will likely need to in order to have a shot at home-field advantage in the NFC. But they’ll need the Cardinals to stumble at least once, too. Tampa Bay could win out on the road, but home games against the Bills and Saints will present a challenge.
No. 4 SEED: Cowboys (7-4)
Remaining: at Saints, at WFT, at Giants, vs. WFT, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles
Dallas is reeling from a home loss to Las Vegas on Thanksgiving and needs to rebound on the road at New Orleans on Thursday night. The NFC East division isn’t a juggernaut, but those teams always play each other tough. Philly, Washington and New York can’t be overlooked, and the game against Arizona will be huge in NFC playoff positioning.
No. 5 SEED: Rams (7-4)
Remaining: vs. Jaguars, at Cardinals, vs. Seahawks, at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers
The Rams have been on a slide, losing their last three games, including a pair to NFC playoff contenders in the 49ers and Packers. L.A. has a trio of hard road games ahead at Arizona, at Minnesota and at Baltimore in the coming weeks, followed by a home finale against the surging 49ers.
No. 6 SEED: 49ers (6-5)
Remaining: at Seahawks, at Bengals, vs. Falcons, at Titans, vs. Texans, at Rams
The 49ers have won four of their last five, including their last three games. A wild card berth seems like the best that could happen for San Francisco after a pair of losses to division-leading Arizona. Big games loom at Cincinnati, at Tennessee and at Los Angeles against the Rams to end the season.
No. 7 SEED: WFT (5-6)
Remaining: at Raiders, vs. Cowboys, at Eagles, at Cowboys, vs. Eagles, at Giants
The upset win over the Bucs has cued a three-game winning streak for the Football Team. A pair of games against Dallas and Philadelphia, plus a season finale at New York against the Giants will determine not only a potential playoff spot for Washington, but also the NFC East winner.
TOP NFC CONTENDERS
Remaining: at Lions, vs. Steelers, at Bears, vs. Rams, at Packers, vs. Bears
Minnesota has three winnable games coming up against Detroit and Chicago twice. That gets the Vikings to eight wins, which likely won’t be enough for a wild card spot. The Vikings will need to win those games and steal a win against a better team in the Steelers, Rams or Packers, which seems unlikely.
Bucs LB Lavonte David and Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Remaining: vs. Bucs, at Panthers, at 49ers, vs. Lions, at Bills, vs. Saints
Atlanta is 1-4 at home this year, which is good news for Tampa Bay, which visits this Sunday. If the Falcons, who are 4-4 in the last eight games, are going to make a playoff push, upsetting the Bucs in the ATL is a must this week. Atlanta could finish 8-9 or 9-8 if that happens.
Remaining: vs. Cowboys, at Jets, at Bucs, vs. Dolphins, vs. Panthers, at Falcons
Taysom Hill will replace Trevor Siemian at quarterback as the Saints face a must-win game against the Cowboys on Thursday night. After that, tough games at Tampa Bay and home against Miami are on the slate. A big win over the Cowboys could set up a 9-8 or 10-7 finish. A loss could continue the downward spiral of the Saints, who have lost four straight.
Remaining: at Jets, BYE, vs. WFT, vs. Giants, at WFT, vs. Cowboys
Philly is a helter-skelter team with no rhyme or reason to their wins or losses. The 13-7 loss at New York versus the Giants was awful last week. The Eagles return to the scene of the crime this week to play the Jets, who are fresh off a win, before their bye week. Philadelphia pretty much has to run the table to make the playoffs, which will be nearly impossible.
Remaining: BYE, vs. Falcons, at Bills, vs. Bucs, at Saints, at Bucs
Carolina has a bye week and a daunting schedule ahead afterwards with two games against Tampa Bay, one game at Buffalo and a game at New Orleans. Cam Newton is not the answer at QB, and neither is Sam Darnold, who is trying to come back from a shoulder injury. With Christian McCaffrey out for the rest of the season, the Panthers might not win again this season.
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: email@example.com
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