There are four teams the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could potentially face in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs if they defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
Despite finishing the regular season with a losing record, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South for the second consecutive season. In fact, they are the only team in the NFC set to enter this year’s playoffs having won back-to-back division titles.
As a result, the No. 4 seed Buccaneers are set to host a Wild Card game this Monday night against the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys, whom they played on the road to open up the season. The Buccaneers won that game by a score of 19-3, though Dallas ended up finishing the 17-game season with four more wins than Tampa.
Tampa Bay’s division title last year was their first since 2007, so it marked their first time hosting a playoff game since then. They went 1-1 at Raymond James Stadium, beating the Philadelphia Eagles in a Wild Card matchup before losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional Round.
Interestingly, quarterback Tom Brady has never lost to the Cowboys during his 23-year career, with September’s win making him 7-0. Can he make it 8-0 — and 3-0 as a Buc — to send the Buccaneers to their third straight Divisional Round?
A win over the Cowboys would mean that there are four possible opponents for the Buccaneers the following weekend.
The only team not in play would be the No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks. If the Seahawks defeat the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers, they would secure a trip to Philadelphia to take on the No. 1 seed Eagles, as the Eagles are slated to play whichever remaining NFC team is seeded lowest.
Tampa Bay could find themselves travelling to Philadelphia or San Francisco, and they could also find themselves travelling to Minnesota to take on the No. 3 seed Vikings. Additionally, they could find themselves hosting the No. 6 seed New York Giants.
Let’s have a look at how each possibility can come to fruition.
NOTE: All percentages based on FiveThirtyEight’s projections.
The Buccaneers can take on the Eagles for the second consecutive postseason — and in the Divisional Round for the first time since 1979 — if all three of the higher seeded NFC teams win this weekend. This means that, in addition to the Buccaneers beating the Cowboys, the 49ers would need to beat the Seahawks and the Vikings would have to beat the Giants.
The chance that this matchup takes place in the Divisional Round is 21.71%. If a Buccaneers Wild Card victory is assumed, the chance it takes place in this round is 54.27%.
San Francisco 49ers
The only way the Buccaneers can secure a Week 14 rematch with the 49ers in the Divisional Round is if they aren’t the lowest seed remaining in the NFC. So the Buccaneers, 49ers, and Giants would have to win their respective Wild Card games.
The chance that this matchup takes place in the Divisional Round is 10.69%. If a Buccaneers Wild Card victory is assumed, the chance it takes place in this round is 26.73%.
The same scenario described regarding a potential Buccaneers vs. 49ers Divisional Round matchup is in play here, but it would require the Vikings to win and the 49ers to lose, not the other way around.
The chance that this matchup takes place in the Divisional Round is 5.09%. If a Buccaneers Wild Card victory is assumed, the chance it takes place in this round is 12.73%.
New York Giants
This is by far the least likely possibility, but it is a possibility which exists nonetheless. If the Buccaneers win and the Giants and Seahawks both pull off upsets, the Giants would travel to Tampa for the Divisional Round.
The chance that this matchup takes place in the Divisional Round is 2.51%. If a Buccaneers Wild Card victory is assumed, the chance it takes place in this round is 6.27%.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Pewter Plank team!