Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dallas Win Preserves Bucs' Playoff Hopes

Tampa Bay's last possible path to the playoffs remains open thanks to the Cowboys' victory over Detroit on Monday night, though seven more games still have to fall just right.

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions on Monday night, 42-21, and in the process kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2016 playoff hopes alive.

After falling to the Saints in Week 16, the Buccaneers saw their road to the playoffs close to a single, narrow lane. That road would have come to a dead end if the Lions had won in Dallas. Instead, a scenario exists in which Tampa Bay can win the second NFC Wild Card spot, and it involves the results of seven different games in Week 17.

To make the playoffs, the Buccaneers need each of the following Week 17 outcomes to occur:




Carolina (6-9) at Tampa Bay (8-7)

1:00 p.m. ET


Jacksonville (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8)

1:00 p.m. ET


Dallas (13-2) at Philadelphia (6-9)

1:00 p.m. ET


Houston (9-6) at Tennessee (8-7)

1:00 p.m. ET


Seattle (9-5-1) at San Francisco (2-13)

4:25 p.m. ET


N.Y. Giants (10-5) at Washington (8-6-1)

4:25 p.m. ET

-- TIE --

Green Bay (9-6) at Detroit (9-6)

8:30 p.m. ET


That combination of results would create a tie for the final Wild Card spot between the 9-7 Buccaneers, the 9-7 Packers and the 8-6-2 Redskins (two ties are the equivalent of one win). The first tiebreaker to be applied between those two teams would be record against NFC opponents, and Washington would be eliminated thanks to a 6-5-1 conference record compared to 7-5 for the Bucs and Packers.

After Washington was eliminated, the remaining two teams would go back to the beginning and work their way through the following tiebreakers, in order, until the deadlock was final broken by "strength of victory" (SOV), which is the combined winning percentage of all of the opponents a team has beaten that season. Here's how that would look between the Bucs and Packers:






Conference Record



Common Games



Strength of Victory



There are two different SOV percentages listed for each team based on the winner of the Minnesota-Chicago game. Even though the outcome of that game changes the final SOV for both Tampa Bay and Green Bay, the Buccaneers are ahead in both cases, so the outcome of that game does not affect who wins the tiebreaker. For the record, the first percentage listed above for each team indicates its SOV if Minnesota wins, the second if Chicago wins.

Those seven results are needed to accomplish two separate things in the Bucs' playoff quest:

  1. The wins by Tampa Bay and Detroit and the tie by Washington would lead to the three-way tie for the final Wild Card spot, as described above.
  1. The wins by San Francisco, Indianapolis, Dallas and Tennessee would affect the SOV totals for the Buccaneers and Packers, and Tampa Bay needs every single one of those outcomes in order to pull ahead by a half-win.

The Giants-Redskins game is important to both sides of that equation. The Buccaneers cannot get in if Washington wins because that would put the Redskins at 9-6-1 and they would simply be ahead in the standings. However, the Buccaneers cannot get in if New York wins, either, because Green Bay beat the Giants and that result would push the Packers ahead in the SOV race. That is precisely why the Buccaneers can only get in through the rare occurrence of a tie.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Latest Headlines