The Bucs clinched the NFC South title and an automatic playoff berth with a 32-9 win over the Panthers. The victory improved Tampa Bay’s record to 11-4 and moved the team to the No. 3 spot in the NFC playoff picture earlier in the day. Yet Dallas’ big win over Washington moved Tampa Bay down to No. 4 late Sunday night. The Bucs still have a chance at the No. 1 seed, but would need to win out and get some help from the Packers, Cowboys and Rams to move up to the top spot.

The Packers have the league’s best record at 12-3 and the top seed in the NFC. Dallas (11-4) won the NFC East and beat Washington on Sunday Night Football. That moved the Cowboys ahead of the Rams and Buccaneers due to the better conference record, which is the first tiebreaker. Dallas has an 9-1 record in the NFC, compared to L.A.’s 8-3 mark and Tampa Bay’s 7-4 record.

The Los Angeles Rams beat the Vikings in Minnesota, 30-23, to also move to 11-4 and  the No. 3 seed behind Green Bay and Dallas. The Rams hold the tiebreaker over the Bucs not just due to a 34-24 win over Tampa Bay in L.A. in Week 3, but because of a better conference record. Los Angeles has an 8-3 record in the NFC compared to Tampa Bay’s 7-4 mark. Los Angeles is a game ahead of Arizona (10-5) and has not yet clinched the NFC West division.

Let’s take a look at the current playoff picture in the NFC.

Current NFC Playoff Picture

No. 1 seed – Green Bay (12-3)
Remaining schedule: vs. Minnesota, at Detroit

No. 2 seed – Dallas (11-4)
Remaining schedule: vs. Arizona, at Philadelphia

No. 3 seed – Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
Remaining schedule: at Baltimore, vs. San Francisco

No. 4 seed – Tampa Bay (11-4)
Remaining schedule: at New York Jets, vs. Carolina

No. 5 seed – Arizona (10-5)
Remaining schedule: at Dallas, vs. Seattle

No. 6 seed – San Francisco (8-7)
Remaining schedule: at Houston, vs. Los Angeles Rams

No. 7 seed – Philadelphia (8-7)
Remaining schedule: at Washington, vs. Dallas

Green Bay would get a first round bye if it holds on to the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Dallas would host Philadelphia in the first round if the playoffs started today. The Rams would host the 49ers, while the Bucs are currently slated to host the Cardinals in the first round.

NFC Teams Still Alive For The Playoffs

8. New Orleans Saints (7-7)
9. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
10. Atlanta Falcons (7-8)
11. Washington Football Team (6-8)

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for 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 coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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6 months ago

i could see the cowboys and rams losing at least one more game this season. and hopefully the saints miss the playoffs altogether

Reply to  Lawdy
6 months ago

AGREED! I think we beat the Saints if we play them again, but I hope they don’t even get a chance and have to watch the whole post season from their couch like the dirty hitting scumbags they are. And I can definitely see the Rams and Cowboys dropping at least 1 for sure.

6 months ago

We just need the Rams to lose one game and the Bucs to win there next two. That would give of the #2seed wich means 2 home play-off games.

6 months ago

The fact that Tie Breakers aren’t first decided by Head-to-Head record is the most ridiculous thing ever. I don’t care if it would help or hurt us, if there’s a tie breaker, Head-To-Head matchups (if there was any) should be the first and foremost deciding factor.

Randy H.
Randy H.
Reply to  Spitfire
6 months ago

For two teams, I agree. But how would that help in a three-way tie-breaker?

6 months ago

The Bucs need to just win this next game and then finish off the Panthers the last game of the season. It really does nothing to worry about other teams and if they lose or win. We need to take care of our own business and the rest will take care of itself. Bucs need to win out. We r already guaranteed a home game which is a little easier than the path we took last year to win the SuperBowl. Just get healthy boys! If we r healthy, then I believe we r almost unbeatable. Go Bucs!