After a second consecutive impressive win at home Sunday, the Buccaneers have joined the fringe of the NFC playoff picture, for now.
The good news is while the Buccaneers defeated the Panthers 24 – 17, they also got other help in the NFC from teams losing in front of and below of them.
For example, the Minnesota Vikings who already have six wins, were beaten by New England Sunday. Likewise, the Atlanta Falcons ,who were 4-7 coming into Sunday like Tampa Bay, were defeated at home by Baltimore and have now dropped a game behind the Bucs.
The Vikings currently occupy the #6 Wildcard spot at 6-5-1. However, their loss in Foxboro brought them back to the pack of teams chasing them by another game.
Meanwhile, the Packers lost Sunday at Lambeau to lowly Arizona and fired coach Mike McCarthy after the game. Green Bay still sits with only four victories heading into the final month of the season, and doesn’t look like a post-season team.
You a couple those with the Panthers fourth consecutive loss keeping them at 6 – 6, and the Buccaneers are definitely still in the conversation. Currently, the Seahawks have 7 wins (and play Minnesota this week), and the Monday night loss by the Redskins against the Eagles has left a three-way tie at 6-6 after the weekend.
That’s Washington, Philadelphia and Carolina, now sitting a half a game behind Minnesota.
It could be important that the Bucs have a head-to-head tiebreaker over Philly from their September win. Obviously, Washington has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Tampa Bay, if it comes down to it, after they defeated the Bucs in Tampa last month. However, the Skins have lost both starting QB Alex Smith and now, backup Colt McCoy to season ending injuries and appear to be ready to fall out of the race.
The bottom line is: the Buccaneers have kept themselves relevant for another week, as they get ready to host the Saints. They know that with New Orleans having 10 wins already, they cannot catch them/win the NFC South. Their only hope is to win out and hope for the losing to continue around them.
Then, the Bucs may very well find themselves in the playoff picture for the final week of the season
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