The Buccaneers finally took care of business and secured the NFC South title on Sunday against the Panthers, but their wild card opponent still might not be the Cowboys.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched their second consecutive NFC South title on Sunday with a 30-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers. While their 2022 season has been largely disappointing, they are the only NFC team to have clinched back-to-back division titles.
At 8-8, the Buccaneers are locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. They are four games behind the next closest division leader with just one game remaining on the regular season schedule, so they can’t move up.
For the longest time, it appeared that if and when the Tom Brady-led team finally clinched the NFC South, they were poised to meet the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys on Wild Card Weekend.
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first matchup with the Cowboys back in mid-October, and Dallas already had three losses by the time Philly finally lost for the first time in 2022.
After Week 15, with the Eagles sitting at 13-1 and the Cowboys sitting at 10-4, it seemed inevitable that the Eagles would formally clinch the NFC East, thus relegating the Cowboys to the top wild card spot.
All that needed to happen over the course of the season’s final three weeks was any Eagles win or tie – or any Cowboys loss or tie.
But in the two weeks since then, the Eagles have lost twice, including once to the Cowboys, and the Cowboys have won twice, meaning that the division title is still up for grabs.
If the Eagles, now 13-3, lose in Week 18 to the New York Giants, and the Cowboys, now 12-4, beat the Washington Commanders, both teams will finish 13-4, and the tiebreaker will go to Dallas, as they will own a better division record than Philadelphia.
It would then be Nick Sirianni’s Eagles, not Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys, heading to Raymond James Stadium for a round one matchup against the NFC South champions, just like last year.
The Eagles are heavy favorites against the Giants, with New York likely resting several key starters after having secured the No. 6 seed.
But with twice as many losses in the last two weeks as they had had through the first 15, Philadelphia will be extra wary of losing a division title and a No. 1 seed that once seemed inevitable, a scenario which would send them to Tampa, Florida.
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