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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Claim Second Straight NFC South Title

Tampa Bay's win over the Panthers on Sunday clinched the NFC South and gave the franchise its eighth division title and 13th trip to the playoffs, where they are a guaranteed a home game in the opening round

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For the first time in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can call themselves back-to-back division winners.

With a 30-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, the Buccaneers clinched the NFC South and with it the fourth seed in the conference playoff field and a home game to start the postseason. The Buccaneers successfully defended their division title after winning it in 2021 with a 13-4 record. It is the eighth division crown in franchise history and the fifth since the NFC South was formed in 2002.

In addition to the last two seasons, the Buccaneers also won the NFC Central in 1979, 1981 and 1999 and the NFC South in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

By beating the Panthers in Week 17, the Buccaneers improved to 8-8 and eliminated the now 6-10 Panthers from title contention. The New Orleans, who started the day with a 6-9 record and a road date in Philadelphia, can finish the season with a maximum of eight wins and would be eliminated by the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to two losses to the Buccaneers. The Atlanta Falcons had been eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16.

The Buccaneers have now qualified for the postseason in three consecutive seasons, with their Wild Card berth in 2020 leading to a thrilling run to Super Bowl LV, in which they became the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium. The last time the Buccaneers made the playoffs in at least three straight seasons was their run of four postseason berths from 1999-2002, culminating in victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Overall, this is the 13th season that has ended in a playoff berth for the Buccaneers. In addition to their eight division titles they were also Wild Card entrants in 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2020. After a players' strike reduced the 1982 regular season to nine games, the NFL conducted a "Super Bowl tournament" that included eight teams from each conference, and the Buccaneers got in as the NFC's seventh seed.

All four division winners in the conference are guaranteed at least one home playoff game. The first seed gets a bye in the Wild Card round and the other three division winners host the three Wild Card participants. As the lowest-seeded division winner, the Buccaneers get the highest-seeded Wild Card team. Times and dates for the games will be announced at the end of Week 18.

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