Updated NFC South standings and playoff scenarios after Bucs beat Panthers in Week 13

It wasn't pretty, but the Bucs are right back in the thick of things after getting a win in Week 13.

Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Mike Carlson/GettyImages
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For just the second time in seven weeks the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found themselves on the right side of a result on Sunday night.

All it took was horrible conditions and a matchup against a 1-10 team, but the Bucs are back in the win column and right back in the thick of the NFC South race. Plenty of things can still happen, but there's a clear path to the playoff for the Bucs after grinding out a 21-18 win over Carolina in Week 13.

New Orleans lost against Detroit earlier in the afternoon, which sinks the Saints down to third place and moves the Bucs up into second. Atlanta survived a battle with the Jets to remain in first place but Tampa Bay is well within striking distance with a massive matchup against the Falcons lined up for next Sunday.

It's been a brutal stretch these last eight weeks, but the Bucs are just a win away from reclaiming control of the division and once again being on a path to the playoffs.

Updated NFC South Standings after Week 13

Here's how things stand now that Week 13 is in the books and we had all sorts of action around the NFC South:

Team

Record

GB

Next Week

Atlanta Falcons

6-6

--

vs. Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5-7

1

at Falcons

New Orleans Saints

5-7

1

vs Panthers

Carolina Panthers

1-11

Eliminated

at Saints

It was said more than a few times during the CBS broadcast, but the Bucs are essentially in a round robin tournament to determine the division title. Of the Bucs five remaining games, only two are against teams that aren't in the NFC South.

Games against the Packers and Jaguars will act as wild card matchups, as the three remaining games against the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers could end up deciding who wins the division.

No team in the division is set up better than the Bucs. A win over the Falcons next week prevents Atlanta from owning a full tiebreaker, and would vault Tampa Bay back into first place. The Bucs also have only one game remaining against a winning team, as outside of the Jaguars the schedule is realtively easy on paper.

Of course, Bucs fans know how easy it's been for the team to make simple things difficult and there's no such thing as a clear path. If Tampa Bay can play the way it did on Sunday -- or during its 3-1 start -- then there's no reason the season can't get turned around in time to reclaim control of the NFC South and punch a playoff ticket.

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