Head Coach Tony Dungy will leave the scoreboard watching to others on Sunday
You're a Buccaneer fan and you've been watching Tampa Bay's December contests with one eye on the action and the other on a list of playoff scenarios. Now that the Bucs have qualified for the postseason, you may think you can relax for Sunday's season finale in Chicago. Think again.
Though the Bucs no longer have to worry about whether their invitation to the dance will arrive, they are still waiting for their playoff partner to emerge from the mix. A variety of possible combinations exist, including the distinction between Tampa Bay winning the NFC Central or qualifying as a Wild Card berth.
If you can't take the suspense and want to know just what every Sunday result means to the Buccaneers, check out the chart below, which lays out the seedings under the various scenarios. When reading this chart, it is important to note that the #1 and #2 seeds get first-round byes while the other four teams play on the weekend of January 8-9. The #6 seed will play at the #3 seed and the #5 seed will play at the #4 seed.
NFC PLAYOFF SEEDING SCENARIOS (Assumes no tie games occur)
Seeds Already Determined # 1 Seed: St. Louis
Seeding Scenarios for Other Top Seeds: A) If Tampa Bay Wins or Ties: #2 Seed: Tampa Bay #3 Seed: Washington
B) If Tampa Bay Loses and Minnesota Wins: #2 Seed: Minnesota #3 Seed: Washington #4 Seed: Tampa Bay
C) If Tampa Bay and Minnesota both lose and Washington wins: #2 Seed: Washington #3 Seed: Tampa Bay
D) If Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Washington all lose: #2 Seed: Tampa Bay #3 Seed: Washington
Seeding Scenarios for #4, #5 and #6 If Tampa Bay wins Division (A, C, and D above) If Minnesota Wins and Dallas Loses: #4 Seed: Minnesota #5 Seed: Detroit #6 Seed: Either Carolina, Green Bay or N.Y. Giants
If Minnesota Wins and Dallas Wins: #4 Seed: Minnesota #5 Seed: Dallas #6 Seed: Detroit
If Detroit Wins and Dallas Wins: #4 Seed: Detroit #5 Seed: Minnesota #6 Seed: Dallas
If Detroit Wins and Dallas Loses: #4 Seed: Detroit #5 Seed: Minnesota #6 Seed: Either Carolina, Green Bay or N.Y. Giants
Seeding Scenarios for #5 and #6 If Minnesota wins Division (B above) If Dallas Wins: #5 Seed: Dallas #6 Seed: Detroit
If Dallas Loses: #5 Seed: Detroit #6 Seed: Either Carolina, Green Bay or N.Y. Giants
POSSIBLE NFC TEAM SEEDINGS: #1 Seed: St. Louis #2 Seed: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Washington #3 Seed: Washington, Tampa Bay #4 Seed: Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Detroit #5 Seed: Detroit, Minnesota, Dallas #6 Seed: Dallas, Detroit, Carolina, Green Bay, N.Y. Giants
As a reminder, #1 and #2 seeds receive a first-round bye in the playoffs and host on divisional weekend.
On Wild Card Weekend, the #3 seed will host the #6 seed and the #4 seed will host the #5 seed.
On Divisional Weekend, the #1 seed will host the lowest surviving seed from Wild Card Weekend.
The #2 seed will host the highest surviving seed from Wild Card Weekend.
For Championship Games, the highest surviving seed from Divisional Weekend will host the lowest surviving seed.
Note: The #6 seed can never host a playoff game. Also, games against divisional opponents can occur in any playoff round.