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FAB 1. Bucs Playoff Watch

With the Bucs’ great 46-23 win over the Panthers came some great news.

Tampa Bay improved to 7-3.

Not only are the seven wins significant because the team has matched its win total from a year ago with six games to play, but teams that start off 7-3 have made the playoffs 93 percent of the time since 2009.

Even better news for the Bucs? Teams that start off 8-3 have made the playoffs 100 percent of the time since 2009.

Of course long-suffering Tampa Bay fans remember Jon Gruden’s 2008 team starting the season 9-3 before four straight losses in December doomed the Bucs – and Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen.

Since then, Tampa Bay has flirted with the playoffs three times – finishing 10-6 and losing a playoff tie-breaker in 2010, narrowly missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2016 and entering a critical two-game home stretch 7-7 last year before losing by three points to Houston and against Atlanta in overtime to finish 7-9 rather than 9-7.

So what does the rest of 2020 hold for the Buccaneers? PewterReport.com begins its Bucs Playoff Watch in this week’s edition of SR’s Fab 5.

Here is the current NFC Playoff Picture where New Orleans leads the NFC South by half a game, but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tampa Bay, which holds the first wild card spot for now. Remember the NFL rules change for 2020 where each conference has three wild card teams rather than two in years past.

CURRENT NFC PLAYOFF TEAMS

1. Packers (NFC North leader) – 7-2 overall / 2-0 division / 4-2 conference
Has head-to-head tiebreaker for No. 1 seed over Saints
Remaining games: at Colts (6-3), vs. Bears (5-5), vs. Eagles (3-5-1), at Lions (4-5), vs. Panthers (3-7), vs. Titans (6-3), at Bears (5-5)

2. Saints (NFC South leader) – 7-2 overall / 3-0 division / 6-1 conference
Half game lead in NFC South
Remaining games: vs. Falcons (3-6), at Broncos (3-6), at Falcons (3-6), at Eagles (3-5-1), vs. Chiefs (8-1), vs. Vikings (4-5), at Panthers (3-7)

3. Seahawks (NFC West leader) 7-3 overall / 2-2 division / 5-2 conference
Current half-a-game division lead over the Rams, pending Los Angeles’ outcome against the Bucs on Monday night.
Remaining games:
at Eagles (3-5-1), vs. Giants (3-6), vs. Jets (0-9), at Washington (2-7), vs. Rams (6-3), at 49ers (4-5)

4. Eagles (NFC East leader) – 3-5-1 overall / 2-2 division / 3-3 conference
Has current lead in NFC East
Remaining games: at Browns (6-3), vs. Seahawks (6-3), at Packers (7-2), vs. Saints (7-2), at Cardinals (6-3), at Cowboys (2-7), vs. Washington (2-7)

5. Buccaneers (First wild card) – 7-3 overall / 2-2 division / 4-3 conference
Half a game behind Saints in NFC South
Remaining games: vs. Rams (6-3), vs. Chiefs (8-1), vs. Vikings (4-5), at Falcons (3-6), at Lions (4-5), vs. Falcons (3-6)

6. Rams (Second wild card) 6-3 overall / 1-1 division / 6-0 conference
Owns tiebreaker over Seahawks based on head-to-head
Remaining games: at Bucs (7-3), vs. 49ers (4-6), at Cardinals (6-3), vs. Patriots (4-5), vs. Jets (0-9), at Seahawks (6-3), vs. Cardinals (6-3)

7. Cardinals (Third wild card) – 6-4 overall / 2-1 division / 4-3 conference
1.5-game lead in wild card race.
Remaining games:
at Patriots (4-5), vs. Rams (6-3), at Giants (3-7), vs. Eagles (3-5-1), vs. 49ers (4-6), at Rams (6-3)

IN CONTENTION

8. Bears – 5-5 overall / 1-1 division / 5-3 conference
Two games back in NFC North
Remaining games: at Packers (7-2), vs. Lions (4-5), vs. Texans (2-7), at Vikings (4-5), at Jaguars (1-8), vs. Packers (7-2)

9. Vikings – 4-5 overall / 3-1 division / 3-3 conference
2.5 games back in NFC North
Remaining games: vs. Cowboys (2-7), vs. Panthers (3-7), vs. Jaguars (1-8), at Bucs (7-3), vs. Bears (5-5), at Saints (7-2), vs. Lions (4-5)

10. Lions – 4-5 overall / 0-3 division / 3-4 conference
2.5 games back in NFC North
Remaining games: at Panthers (3-7), vs. Texans (2-7), at Bears (5-5), vs. Packers (7-2), at Titans (6-2), vs. Bucs (7-3), vs. Vikings (4-5)

11. 49ers – 4-6 overall / 1-2 division / 2-5 conference
2.5 games back in wild card race
Remaining games: at Rams (6-3), vs. Bills (7-3), vs. Washington (2-7), at Cowboys (2-7), at Cardinals (6-3), vs. Seahawks (6-3)

Here are some Bucs-related takeaways from the current NFC Playoff Picture:

• Tampa Bay has the worst conference record (4-3) of all the current NFC playoff teams. Monday night’s game against the Rams is critical not only for head-to-head implications against Los Angeles, but also to get another conference win.

• The Bucs have their bye week after the team’s Week 12 game against the Chiefs. This could come at a great time to refresh the team for an all-important four-game stretch in December that will determine Tampa Bay’s playoff fate.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and HC Bruce Arians
Bucs QB Tom Brady and HC Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

• Tampa Bay finishes the year with four home games (versus Los Angeles, Kansas City, Minnesota and Atlanta) and just two away games (at Atlanta and Detroit). The Bucs are currently 3-1 at home and 4-2 on the road.

• The team to watch out for are the Vikings. They’ve won three straight games and the next three games are at home against the Cowboys (2-7) and Panthers (3-7) and Jaguars (1-8). Minnesota will be favored in each of those games and could arrive in Tampa Bay with a 7-5 record and plenty of momentum with a six-game winning streak if it wins the next three.

• If the playoffs started today, Tampa Bay would travel to Philadelphia for the first round of the playoffs. But with the Eagles facing five straight games against teams with a winning record, don’t be surprised to see the 3-7 Giants overtake them for the NFC East title. The Giants and Eagles split this year, and New York has a half-game lead in the division and just as tough a schedule as Philly does – at Bengals (2-6-1), at Seahawks (6-3), vs. Cardinals (6-3), vs. Browns (6-3), at Ravens (6-3), vs. Cowboys (2-7). The Bucs narrowly beat the Giants, 25-23, on Monday Night Football four weeks ago, and could face them in New York for a rematch if Tampa Bay holds on to the No. 1 wild card seed and the Giants win the NFC East.

Yet there’s something fundamentally wrong with a potential 10-win or 11-win Buccaneers team traveling to either Philadelphia or New York to play against an NFC East champion that will probably have a losing record. For more on this dilemma, click the next page for Fab 2.

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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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eaustinyoung

Bucs are in a great spot actually. If New Orleans drops 2 games and the Bucs hold strong, they could win the division. New Orleans could lose 1 game to ATL, they can definitely lose to KC, and even the Vikings are heating up a bit.

But as a top Wild Card, they will get to play an NFC Least team. I actually like this playoff picture more than past years.

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JohnGaltsGhost

I’d rather play at Philly which is a horrible team and win the division and have to take on a pretty decent Cardinals team

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Pete Wood

I agree with Bruce. I have no issue with division winners making the playoffs with losing records. The divisions have to mean something or else it’d just be like baseball used to be with everybody fighting for first in one big conference grouping. I do, however, think that teams should be seeded for the playoffs based on record. The winner of the NFC East should be a seventh seed, plain and simple. I could see giving the division winner a tie breaking edge against a team with the same record for playoff seeding, but that’s as far as I’ll go.… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Devin White (the guy you claimed was already in a league with Derrick Brooks) isn’t even better than some 3rd round Rb nobody outside of LA has ever heard of – that’s a problem. That matchup should be a clear 99% in favor of White or the wheels have indeed come off the bus.

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Virtual_Camel

Hopefully the coaches will focus on teaching him how to play pass defense.

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Naplesfan

You’re an idiot. No, I take that back, you’re a moron.

Devin White leads the entire Bucs defense in tackles, both solo and combined; he leads the team in tackles for loss; he is second on the team in sacks, and is fourth on the team in quarterback hits.

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EastEndBoy

Well, since I was referencing the article rather than making my own comment on White, perhaps it is indeed you who needs to reflect on who the “idiot”, or indeed “moron” is.

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Naplesfan

You are still the moron, attacking Devon White, one of the biggest contributors on a quality defense. Your comment is and remains disgusting.

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EastEndBoy

I suggest you continue to search for the mirror…I was not attacking Devin White….once again, I was referencing the fact that the article attacked Devin White and suggesting that such attack was misplaced….moron.

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drdneast

During the Buccaneers Super Bowl winning season they lost twice to the Saints. Using some of this logic, we had no business winning the division. Since they beat us home and away, the Saints should have been the division champs and possibly have gone to the Super Bowl.
However, my main question is, will history repeat itself?
Awww hell, I’m probably snake biting us for mentioning it.

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Naplesfan

Yes, that’s true. The winner of the division is the team with the best record. If two teams, or more, have the same record then head to head controls. But teams start out well and then tank in November and December – it happens to multiple teams every year, and as Scott reminds us, that happened to the Bucs in the 2008 season, which is what got Jon Gruden canned. There is at least a strong possibility that the Saints will tank the rest of this season if Drew Brees does not make it back in good health. The difference… Read more »

drdneast

As long as the Bucs attack on defense and don’t sit back in prevent zone defense they should be okay.
I’m not so much worried about how the Bucs react to prime time games but how the coaching staff does.
Lefto’s sphincter clinches like he’s trying to make a diamond out of a piece of coal when the bright lights come on.
Bowle’s didn’t perform much better with the defenses he called against the Saints.
Dance with the girls you brought to the prom you two.

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chefboho

Donovan Smith giving up 5 pressures against a weak Carolina pass rush is staggering. We all know hes mediocre, but he’ll get Brady killed this week without Marpet in the line up. I just cant wait to see this guy off the team. He’s stealing the bucs money at this point

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Randy H.

Go back to the way that the leagues were 50+ years ago. Have only a North and South or East and West, and just seed the top 8 teams from each of those.

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Naplesfan

The Bucs are fully in command of their own destiny this season. Win out, and they’re guaranteed in the playoffs. Win only three of the remaining six, still nearly guaranteed in this 16 team playoff field. Yes, the Bucs could completely implode and lose 6 of 6 and be the greatest embarrassment in the league this year. It is possible, but not very likely. Projecting results over six games is a fools business. There are just way too many variables, both for the Bucs, as well as for the other teams they’re competing against. Pray that Tom Brady doesn’t end… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Naplesfan
GrayBalls

It is currently a 14-team playoff field. 16 is in the plans as a contingency. Not that it devalues your take, just lowers it’s accuracy

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Naplesfan

It’s still the plan

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thewbacca

If the season ended today, would Tampa get @Philly? Is that such a bad thing. Other than a first round bye, that sounds like an ideal scenario.

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BigSombrero

The season isn’t ending today. Bucs remaining opponents seem to be playing well and are healthy with the exception of Detroit.

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awwdembucs

JUST WIN and everything will be fine.

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twspin

Still much to early right now. Bucs are in the middle of the pack right now. One game at a time. The Rams defense is coming and bringing hell with them. Hope we got a blocking scheme for the Beast, Mr. Donald. Brady gets mega pressure like he did against the Saints and WE..can Kiss the baby. Then we got the chiefs. No easy task. Lose this 2 games and we will be trying to salvage 8-8 or 9-7. One game at a time.. 6 games left people. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating+10 Rating: +1. From 1 vote. Please… Read more »

scubog

Putting out all of these playoff scenarios for virtually every team is pointless with 6 games remaining. I suppose even in Dallas, Jerry Jones has his new consultant, Jethro Bodine, ciphering the possibilities so he doesn’t have to get another facelift just to be able to muster a smile for the cameras he so loves to mug. As twspin noted, “one game at a time”.

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Naplesfan

Even getting down to 4 games left on the schedule is no indication, let alone a guarantee or probability, of future success .. as the 2008 Bucs teams proved to this fan base.

But being 7-3 at this stage is a very good place to be, understanding that things can stay the same, get much better, or get much worse in the remaining 6 games and 7 weeks.

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BigSombrero

One game at a time? Of course, but isn’t it fun to look ahead and read the tea leaves? I think the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Rams are tough outs in January. I think the Giants have a shot at the playoffs, which is hilarious. I think the Eagles win the division, which is hilarious. I think Tampa goes 3-3 over the next 6 to finish 10-6. I think Tampa has to go to Green Bay in round 1. I think Tom Brady is glad he isn’t in the AFC. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating0-1 Rating: -1. From 1 vote.… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by BigSombrero
76bucsfan46

In my opinion our Bucs won’t get the 5th seed. I think we get the 6th or 7th seed. Don’t shoot the messenger but I dont see us winning either of the next 2 games with our defensive philosophy of late. I also don’t see us sweeping Atlanta so the 6th or 7th seed is not out of the question.

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thegeebo

I think you are being incredibly optimistic that a 7 win team will come out of the NFC East. I think the division winner will be lucky to have 5 wins. NFC East Football this season has been the WORST football I’ve ever seen, coming from a long time Bucs fan!!

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