While Sunday did not go the way anyone would have liked, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season is far from over.
The loss to Detroit stings for a number of reasons, most notably the blown opportunities that had the Bucs on the cusp of potentially taking control. Despite how things went, the Bucs are still a first place team with a Top 10 record in the league.
A playoff spot is also still in the Bucs possession, although it's still too early to get truly excited about that.
Not only does Tampa Bay have a ton of things to clean up before anyone can have even an ounce of confidence things will go well, but there's still a lot of season left. Pessimists will look at Sunday and say that means there's plenty of time for the Bucs to fall out of favor, but the glass half full suggests Tampa Bay has a chance to correct things on the fly and solidify its place in the playoffs as the second half of the season approaches.
Updated NFC Playoff Picture after Week 6
Week 6 was a measuring stick game for the Bucs, and they failed to measure up. What we learned about the team is that it's a very good one that still has a ways to go before it's competitive against the best teams in the NFC.
Good thing there's still 12 games left for the Bucs to figure things out.
It's super early to be thinking about the playoffs, but it's a position nobody expected the Bucs to be in. For as bad as things went against the Lions and as crummy as we all feel about what we saw, Tampa Bay remains in control of a Top 4 seed in the NFC and can only get knocked back if they allow it to happen.
Here's how things stack up in the NFC now that six weeks of the season are in the books:
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-1)
- Detroit Lions (5-1)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
- Dallas Cowboys (3-2)
- Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
This would mean if the playoff started today -- which they very much do not -- the Bucs would be hosting the Dallas Cowboys for a second straight year in the Wild Card.
Next week is going to be huge for the Bucs, as the Atlanta Falcons come to town with the chance to flip the division. A loss to Atlanta would knock Tampa Bay out of first place and out of the playoff picture. It would also hand the Falcons one half of a tie breaker that is likely to be very important when we near the end of the season.
Tampa Bay needs a win on Sunday for more than just immediate playoff seeding. After the game against Atlanta, the Bucs head up to Buffalo to play the Bills on a short week, which could turn into a third straight loss if things truly break bad on Tampa Bay.
Let's not put that negative energy out there, though.