Buccaneers: No time for losses in competitive NFC

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bruce Arians, (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Week 8 of the 2021 NFL Season has arrived, and it isn’t too early for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their supporters to start sizing up the competition in the NFC when it comes to playoff positioning.

The Bucs remain the top team in the NFC South with a big game on Sunday against the second place New Orleans Saints, who are 1.5 games behind. While a win would ensure maintaining a comfortable lead in the division, it also keeps the Bucs in contention for the only first-round bye in the conference.

That’s because the leaders in the other 3 divisions have put so much distance between themselves and their rivals. The Arizona Cardinals hold the top seed in the NFC West at 7-1. The Packers also sit at 7-1 after their matchup last night.

The 4th seed  by record is technically the 6-1 Los Angeles Rams, who are second in their division to the Cardinals. However, the Dallas Cowboys, due to a bye, come in 5th right behind the Rams at 5-1. The Cowboys lead the NFC East, though, so if the playoffs started today, they would jump over the Rams and take the 4th spot, relegating Los Angeles to a Wild Card.

The Saints would be the 2nd Wild Card at 4-2 with the Minnesota Vikings, currently 3-3, edging out the 3-3 Atlanta Falcons for the last spot in the tournament. The fact that two NFC South teams besides the division-leading Bucs are in contention for the playoffs should be a huge reason for the defending champs to not let their guard down against their division foes or anyone else.

The Buccaneers and their loyalists will surely have their eyes on who tumbles after this weekend, but regardless of what happens Tampa Bay must keep winning. The fight for number one in the NFC is going to be a dogfight, and every game result could be the difference between a week off with home field advantage throughout the playoffs or a Wild Card weekend game and possibly playing the NFC Championship Game on enemy turf.

The chase for the top conference seed this week must go through the French Quarter and old quarterback Jameis Winston. If the Bucs really want it they have to not mess around and defeat a very beatable Saints team before heading into their bye week. The Bucs being 7-1 with a week off puts them in great position to top the NFC by season’s end.

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