Yardbarker Horiz

Friday, December 17, 2010

Playoffs Situation: Wildcard Is The Only Option

The Buccaneers have moved to the cusp of the NFC Playoffs, and the stars and planets have aligned to possibly push the Buccaneers into an even tighter race by this time next week.

The chart below is a snapshot of "if the season ended today".  The (+) means the Buccaneers would win the tiebreaker if Tampa Bay finishes with the same record (because of a head-to-head win).  A (-) means the Buccaneers would lose the same tiebreaker scenario.  An asterisk (*) means a future opponent.

Remember that division winners, regardless of record, make the playoffs. Here is how the NFC breaks down as of today:

Division Winners With First Round Bye
11-2 (South) Atlanta Falcons (-)
9-4 (North) Chicago Bears

Division Winners With First Round Home Game
9-4 (East) Philadelphia Eagles
6-7 (West) St. Louis Rams (+)

Wildcards
10-3 (South) New Orleans Saints (-)
9-4 (East) New York Giants

Outside Looking In
8-5 (South) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8-5 (North) Green Bay Packers
6-7 (West) Seattle Seahawks *

Eliminated as Wildcard Possibility
5-8 (North) Minnesota Vikings
5-8 (East) Washington Redskins (+)
5-9 (West) San Francisco 49ers (+)
4-9 (West) Arizona Cardinals (+)
4-9 (East) Dallas Cowboys
3-10 (North) Detroit Lions *
1-12 (South) Carolina Panthers (+)

With two losses to the Falcons and only three games remaining, the Buccaneers are eliminated from winning the NFC South this season.  They can only make the playoffs as a Wildcard team.

With three games remaining and the Giants having 9 wins, nobody with less than six wins can overtake the Giants and qualify for the playoffs as a Wildcard.  Some of the wildcard-eliminated teams can still win their division (49ers, Cardinals) and make the playoffs, but they will not take a spot from the Buccaneers.

Key Games
First and foremost, the Buccaneers must win at home against the Detroit Lions.  A loss would leave the Buccaneers' playoffs chances hanging by the thinnest of threads.

Secondly, The Buccaneers are only competing with four teams for a spot in the playoffs anymore:  the Saints, Giants, Packers, and Seahawks.  We need these teams to lose this weekend.  Their match-ups this weekend:
  • New Orleans Saints AT the Baltimore Ravens
  • New York Giants HOME against the Philadelphia Eagles
  • Green Bay Packers AT the New England Patriots
  • Seattle Seahawks HOME against the Atlanta Falcons.

Each team has a competitive game this weekend against another playoff teams -- all four have a respectable chance of falling the right way for the Buccaneers to gain on their competition.

Eliminators
Other playoff implications:
  • If the Saint Louis Rams win this weekend, the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals are completely eliminated from the playoffs this season.
  • If the Seattle Seahawks win this weekend, the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals are completely eliminated from the playoffs this season.
  • If the Seattle Seahawks lose this weekend, they cannot qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard:  they must win their division (and cannot take a Wildcard position from the Buccaneers).
  • If the Saint Louis Rams lose this weekend, they cannot qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard:  they must win their division.

This could end up being a watershed weekend for the Pewter Pirates.  The Buccaneers, Saints, and Giants play early games, the Seattle Seahawks player later in the afternoon, and the Green Bay Packers are the Sunday Night Football match-up.  So get everything done Saturday -- there is a full and important day of football coming on Sunday!

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