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The Playoff Run Continues

Posted Dec 20, 2010

A look at the possible scenarios that would allow the Buccaneers to claim one of those spots in a battle with the Saints, Packers, Giants and potentially the Eagles


There are two games left in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2010 regular season.

 

Two very meaningful games.

 

At 8-6 through 14 games, the Buccaneers have met one of their goals for the season: Putting themselves in position to play games that matter in the month of December.  Now they will pursue their larger goal: Turning those meaningful games into a playoff berth.

 

Let's look at how that can happen.

 

First, the overall standings in the NFC, plus each team's remaining opponents:

 

NFC

W

L

T

PCT.

CONF

WKS 16-17

Atlanta

12

2

0

.857

9-1-0

NO, CAR

Chicago

10

4

0

.714

8-3-0

NYJ, @GB

Philadelphia

10

4

0

.714

7-3-0

MIN, DAL

St. Louis

6

8

0

.429

4-6-0

SF, @SEA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans

10

4

0

.714

8-2-0

@ATL, TB

N.Y. Giants

9

5

0

.643

7-3-0

@GB, @WAS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Bay

8

6

0

.571

6-4-0

NYG, CHI

Tampa Bay

8

6

0

.571

6-4-0

SEA, @NO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle

6

8

0

.429

5-5-0

@TB, STL

San Francisco

5

9

0

.357

3-7-0

@STL, AZ

 

The table above is split into four groups to differentiate between their current playoff situations.  The top group contains the four division leaders, which is why 6-8 St. Louis is ahead of several teams with better records.  The second group contains the current leaders in the Wild Card race.  The third group contains the other teams still alive in the Wild Card race.  The fourth group contains the other teams still alive in the NFC West race; these teams are not in contention for a Wild Card berth.

 

In summary, the Buccaneers need only to finish ahead of two of these three teams: the Saints, Packers and Giants.  As the scenarios below will explain in more detail, the Buccaneers can do that by tying the Saints at 10-6 because they would hold a tiebreaker edge over New Orleans.  Tampa Bay does not currently have a tiebreaker edge over the Packers or the Giants based on strength of victory.  While those strength of victory numbers can still change for each team based on the results of many NFL games over the next two weeks, the Buccaneers should assume they cannot finish tied with Green Bay or New York.

 

Scenario #1 below describes how the Buccaneers could tie the Saints and end up with a playoff berth.  Scenario #2 describes how they could finish ahead of both the Giants and the Packers in the overall standings.  Scenario #3 is a variation in which the Giants win the NFC East and the Eagles are in the Wild Card mix.

 

SCENARIO #1:

 

Tampa Bay wins the second Wild Card berth with:

 

1)      TB win vs. SEA in Week 16 AND

2)      TB win at NO in Week 17 AND

3)      NO loss at ATL in Week 16 AND

4)      NYG win at GB in Week 16 OR

5)      GB loss vs. CHI in Week 17.

 

In this scenario, the Giants would be either 10-6 or 11-5, depending upon their game at Washington in Week 17.  Either way, the Giants would be in.  If the Giants are 11-5, they win the first Wild Card berth due to a better record.  If the Giants, Saints and Buccaneers are all tied at 10-6, the first step is to eliminate all but one team from each division, and the Bucs would win the tiebreaker over New Orleans due to a better record in common games (8-4 to 7-5). In addition to division games, the other common opponents for the Buccaneers and the Saints are Arizona, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco and Seattle.  The Buccaneers would be 6-2 against those teams in this scenario (losing to Baltimore and Pittsburgh) while the Saints would be 5-3 (losing to Arizona, Baltimore and Cleveland).

 

**

 

SCENARIO #2:

 

Tampa Bay wins the first Wild Card berth with:

 

1)      TB win vs. SEA in Week 16 AND

2)      TB win at NO in Week 17 AND

3)      NO loss at ATL in Week 16 AND

4)      NYG loss at GB in Week 16 AND

5)      NYG loss at WAS in Week 17 AND

6)      GB loss vs. CHI in Week 17.

 

This one is simple – the Bucs and Saints would be 10-6 and the Giants and Packers would both be 9-7.  The Bucs and Saints would get the two Wild Card berths, and the Bucs would win the tiebreaker for the #5 seed by that same common-game scenario described above.  

 

 **

 

SCENARIO #3:

 

Tampa Bay wins the second Wild Card berth with:

 

1)      TB win vs. SEA in Week 16 AND

2)      TB win at NO in Week 17 AND

3)      NYG win at GB in Week 16 AND

4)      NYG win at WAS in Week 17 AND

5)      PHI loss vs. MIN in Week 16 AND

6)      PHI loss vs. DAL in Week 17 AND

7)      NO loss at ATL in Week 16.

 

The difference in this scenario is that the Giants pass Philadelphia for the NFC East title.  The Giants have to finish 11-5 to win the division because they have already lost twice to Philadelphia. The Eagles would have to finish 10-6, which would mean the best-case-scenario for the Buccaneers is a three-way tie with the Eagles and Saints for the two Wild Card spots.  The Buccaneers would first eliminate the Saints, as described above.  They would then beat the Eagles for the first Wild Card spot based on conference games (8-4 to 7-5).  The Saints and Eagles would then have a tiebreaker and the Eagles would lose that one, too, on conference record.

 

The Bears clinched the NFC North with their victory on Monday night; even if both teams finish 10-6 Chicago would take the tiebreaker over Green Bay with a better division record.  Thus, there is no need to figure out additional scenarios that involve the Bears instead of the Packers.

 

There are additional scenarios in which the Saints take the first Wild Card spot (beating Atlanta but losing to the Buccaneers to finish 11-5) and the Buccaneers finish tied for the second spot with the Giants, the Packers or both.  In one scenario, in which the Giants lose to Green Bay but beat Washington, the Buccaneers would lose the tiebreaker to New York based on common games.  The other scenarios come down to strength of victory; at the moment, the Packers and Giants both have an edge over the Buccaneers in that category, but there are dozens of games remaining around the NFL in the last two weeks that would affect those final numbers.

 

The Buccaneers could also finish 9-7 and be tied with either the Giants or the Packers or both, and the tiebreakers would work out exactly as described in the previous paragraph.

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