Technically, the Buccaneers are playoff contenders. But even if they can run the table, Tampa Bay will need help from other teams to sneak in.
Believe it or not, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still alive. Despite losing seven of eight games earlier in the season, back-to-back victories have put the Bucs back in the hunt.
According to the New York Times’ NFL Playoff Simulator, the Buccaneers need to win out if they have any hope of making the playoffs. Currently, the Bucs have a three percent chance of making the postseason.
If Tampa Bay can manage to run the table, their chances of obtaining a Wild Card spot jump to 61 percent. However, one loss to any of the NFC teams left on the schedule (Saints, Cowboys, and Falcons) the chances drop to under 10 percent.
The issue is, even if the Bucs make a historic run to end the season, they need multiple teams to fall apart late. Tampa Bay currently sits in 10th place in the NFC, meaning four teams stand in front of them in the standings.
Here are how the standings break down for all of the NFC Wild Card contenders:
Seattle Seahawks (7-5)*
Minnesota Vikings (6-5-1)*
Carolina Panthers (6-6)
Philadelphia Eagles (6-6)
Washington Redskins (6-6)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
Green Bay Packers (4-7-1)
* = Team holds a Wild Card spot.
Every team ahead of Tampa Bay, aside from Carolina and Philadelphia, boast a conference record that is two games better than Tampa’s. Plus, the only team the Bucs would get the nod over in head-to-head matchups would be Philadelphia, who the Bucs beat back in Week 2.
The tiebreaker scenarios are not in the Buccaneers’ favor.
Before tiebreakers enter the equation, the Bucs need to take care of business. Tampa Bay’s schedule is formidable. New Orleans comes to town on Sunday, who the Bucs upset in Week 1. Then, the Bucs go on the road to take on Dallas and Baltimore before ending their season against the always dangerous Atlanta Falcons.
The odds are stacked against the Buccaneers, but this is the time to dream. A loss may seem inevitable, but at least Tampa Bay can play a meaningful game or two in December. At least fans can look forward to Sunday’s game.
Remember, at this time last week the organization was handing out free tickets to try and fill Raymond James Stadium. While it may still be a long shot, some hope has returned to One Buc Place.
Crazier things have happened, but it looks like Tampa Bay will be playing for pride, rather than postseason glory in the coming weeks.