Buccaneers can count on one thing if they beat Cowboys

Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Cowboys, NFL, NFL playoffs (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Cowboys, NFL, NFL playoffs (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Even before any NFL playoff action begins, the Buccaneers have a good idea of when they’ll play in the Divisional Round with a win over the Cowboys.

The No. 4 seed NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to begin their third consecutive NFL postseason on Monday night at home against the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys in what is the sixth and final game on the schedule for Super Wild Card Weekend.

The Buccaneers defeated the Cowboys back in Week 1 of the regular season in Arlington by a score of 19-3, and if they win this game to improve quarterback Tom Brady’s career record against Dallas to 8-0, they will lock up a spot in the Divisional Round for the third straight year.

Because this NFC clash is the final game on the schedule for the opening weekend of the playoffs, both teams will know who their potential opponent is in round two if they leave Raymond James Stadium with a victory.

Right now, there are four possibilities, though that number is set to be whittled down to one by the time the game kicks off.

But there is one thing that both the Buccaneers and Cowboys already know about a potential Divisional Round game.

It’s highly unlikely — if not simply out of the question — that the winner of Monday night’s game would be scheduled to play a Saturday Divisional Round game as opposed to a Sunday Divisional Round game. The NFL does its best to ensure fairness across the board, and four days of rest simply wouldn’t fit that bill.

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This was evident last year in what was the first postseason since the introduction of the Monday night Wild Card game. The winner of that game, the Los Angeles Rams, didn’t play again until the following Sunday, when they defeated the Buccaneers en route to their eventual Super Bowl LVI title.

The only question is who the Sunday opponent will be for the Buccaneers or Cowboys. If the No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks defeat the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers, then the Seahawks would travel to Philadelphia to take on the No. 1 seed Eagles in a game that would presumably be contested on Saturday.

The winner of the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game would then take on the winner of the game between the No. 6 seed New York Giants and the No. 3 seed Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

If the 49ers win, the Eagles would likely still play on Saturday if the Giants beat the Vikings, as this scenario would send New York to Philadelphia. The winner of the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game would then take on the 49ers on Sunday in Santa Clara.

But if both the 49ers and Vikings win, the Eagles would host the winner of the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game in a matchup that is pretty much guaranteed to be scheduled for next Sunday as opposed to next Saturday. The only remaining question is whether it will be the first or the second game of the day.

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