The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed back to the postseason for the first time since 2007 and will have chance to pursue a second championship to pair with their Super Bowl XXXVII victory after the 2002 season.
The Buccaneers clinched their spot in the NFC playoff field on Saturday with a 47-7 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The win improved Tampa Bay's record to 10-5 with one game remaining at home against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, January 3. Tampa Bay became the fourth team in the conference to claim one of the seven available playoff spot, joining Green Bay, New Orleans and Seattle.
Tampa Bay also moved closer to securing the top Wild Card spot and the fifth overall seed, which would lead to a first-round matchup with the eventual winner of the NFC East. The Buccaneers only need to beat the Falcons in Week 17 to clinch that position.
The Buccaneers cannot move any higher than that fifth spot because the first four seeds go to the four division winners. New Orleans clinched the NFC South crown on Christmas Day with a 52-33 win over the Minnesota Vikings, improving to 11-4. Tampa Bay could still tie the Saints at the top of the division with a win over the Falcons and a Saints loss at Carolina in Week 17 but New Orleans has an iron-clad tiebreaker with its two-game head-to-head sweep over the Bucs this season.
The Buccaneers made their long-awaited return to the playoffs in their first year with Tom Brady at the helm of the offense. Signing Brady, who won six Super Bowl rings and went to nine total championship games over 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, was just one of many bold moves the Buccaneers made in 2020 to pursue their title dreams. The Buccaneers also managed to retain several key defensive players, including Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, and traded for Brady's long-time Patriots teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Tampa Bay is headed to the postseason in its second season under Head Coach Bruce Arians. In his eight seasons as a head coach or interim head coach, Arians has led his team to the playoffs four times and guided it to 10 or more wins five times.
This marks the 11th time that the Buccaneers have qualified for the postseason. The franchise made it to the playoffs for the first time in 1979, just four years into its existence, then returned in 1981 and 1982. After a drought that lasted most of the '80s and the first half of the '90s, the franchise saw a resurgence after it was purchased by Malcolm Glazer. The Buccaneer went back to the playoffs in 1997, then for four straight years from 1999-2002. The last of those four years culminated in the Bucs' first visit to, and victory in, the Super Bowl, as they defeated the Oakland Raiders, 48-21, in the title game.
Four of those playoff appearances came due to division titles, in 1979, 1981, 1999 and 2002. The Buccaneers subsequently made the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, both times as the NFC South champion.