So you're saying there's a chance?!
The odds are, admittedly, extremely long, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance to clinch a spot in the 2020 playoffs this Sunday. They just need something to happen that hasn't occurred in 53 years.
The scenario only involves two games on the NFL Week's 15 schedule and it starts in the obvious place: The Buccaneers need to take care of their own business and win in Atlanta on Sunday. The other game in the equation is the Chicago Bears visit to Minnesota to play the Vikings on Sunday, and this is where it gets tricky. While the 8-5 Buccaneers would like to see both of those 6-7 teams lose, they only way they can clinch a playoff spot this week is if the Bears and Vikings tie.
Like we said, the odds are long.
The Bears and Vikings have played each other 118 teams in their shared history and only two of those games have ended in ties. The last one to finish without a victor happened in 1967. Across the NFL, there has been one tie this season among the 208 games played so far, or 0.48% of the total.
The reason a Buccaneers win and a Bears-Vikings tie would put the Bucs in the playoffs is that it would result in Tampa Bay having nine wins and neither Chicago nor Minnesota having a chance to get to that same total. Those two teams would be 6-7-1 and could at best finish at 8-7-1. After the top seven seeds in the current standings, there are no other teams in the NFC that could reach nine wins.
The more reasonable outlook for Week 15 is that a Buccaneers win in Atlanta would put them just one more victory from clinching a spot without any help from other teams. If Tampa Bay bets to 9-5 this Sunday, it will only need to beat Detroit in Week 16 or Atlanta again in Week 17 to get to 10 wins, and there are currently only seven NFC teams that can reach that mark, or that can win a division (the NFC East) without 10 wins.
Around the rest of the conference, the top-seeded Green Bay Packers have already won the NFC North and the second-seeded New Orleans Saints have also clinched a playoff berth. The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, both 9-4, can join them with a win Sunday, over the New York Jets and Washington Football Team, respectively, or that completely-possible Bears-Vikings tie. The Saints can also claim their fourth straight NFC South crown with a win or a Buccaneers loss.