The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched their first playoff berth in 13 years with a 47-7 thrashing of the Detroit Lions on Saturday, completing the road half of their 2020 schedule with a team record-tying 6-2 record. The Buccaneers get to come home for the regular-season finale against the Atlanta Falcons, and while they are locked into one of the three NFC Wild Card spots they can still improve their standing in the conference seeding. The game is on Sunday, Jan. 3, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
Tampa Bay's win came a day after the New Orleans Saints clinched the NFC South with their win over Minnesota on Christmas. The Buccaneers entered the week with the second Wild Card spot and sixth overall seed but kept their chances at moving up to number five alive with their win in Detroit. If the Bucs beat the Falcons for the second time in three weeks they will lock up the fifth spot no matter what happens with the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams. The top Wild Card team will open its postseason on the road with the winner of the NFC East, which could come into that game with a losing record
A week after they needed a wild second-half comeback to win at Atlanta, 31-27, the Buccaneers shot right out of the gate in Detroit, scoring touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions and taking a 34-0 lead into halftime, their biggest first-half advantage ever. Tampa Bay won its third straight game since going into its bye with a 7-5 record but Saturday's win was a better indication of what the team can do with a full 60-minute effort, albeit against a depleted Lions team.
The Falcons have a tough draw in Week 16, playing at the 13-1 defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. They will come to Tampa in Week 17 with either a 5-10 or 4-11 record and with no shot at the playoffs. However, Atlanta clearly was still motivated to beat the Buccaneers in Week 15 and is still playing hard under popular Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris. The Falcons now cannot spoil the Bucs' playoff aspirations but they could still keep them from moving up in the standings.