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NFC Playoff Picture: The Final Stretch

Clearly I have far too much time on my hands.  If you had told me at the beginning of the season that I would be creating spreadsheets trying to gauge the likelihood of the Bucs reaching the playoffs come November 30th I would have had a nice chuckle.  Yet here it is November 30th and look what we have here.

I was reading Craig T’s post (Bucs Just on the Outside, Looking In at Playoff Picture After Week 12) and I started wondering about the strengths of schedules for all the various teams in the NFC playoff picture.  Not only how tough will their collective competition be down the final stretch but also which games would be the most winnable, which opponents will have the most to be playing for, and possibly which opponents will be sitting their starters in preparation for the games that REALLY  count.   

 

 

13

14

15

16

17

*

1)

Atlanta

at TB

at CAR

at SEA

vs NO

vs CAR

 

 

(9-2)

(7-4)

(1-10)

(5-6)

(8-3)

(1-10)

(22-33)

2)

Chicago

at DET

vs NE

at MIN

vs NYJ

at GB

 

 

(8-3)

(2-9)

(9-2)

(4-7)

(9-2)

(7-4)

(31-24)

3)

Philadelphia

vs HOU

at DAL

at NYG

vs MIN

vs DAL

 

 

(7-4)

(5-6)

(3-8)

(7-4)

(4-7)

(3-8)

(27-28)

4)

St. Louis

at ARI

at NO

vs KC

vs SF

at SEA

 

 

(5-6)

(3-8)

(8-3)

(7-4)

(4-7)

(5-6)

(27-28)

5)

New Orleans

at CIN

vs STL

at BAL

at ATL

vs TB

 

 

(8-3)

(2-9)

(5-6)

(8-3)

(9-2)

(7-4)

(31-24)

6)

New York Giants

vs WAS

at MIN

vs PHI

at GB

at WAS

 

 

(7-4)

(5-6)

(4-7)

(7-4)

(7-4)

(5-6)

(28-27)

7)

Tampa Bay

vs ATL

at WAS

vs DET

vs SEA

at NO

 

 

(7-4)

(9-2)

(5-6)

(2-9)

(5-6)

(8-3)

(29-26)

8)

Green Bay

vs SF

at DET

at NE

vs NYG

vs CHI

 

 

(7-4)

(4-7)

(2-9)

(9-2)

(7-4)

(8-3)

(30-25)

*  Represents the combined records of the final 5 opponents of the regular season as of today, from here on referred to as CRF5O.

Certainly nothing is set in stone yet, and there are no gimmes in the NFL and blah blah blah, but I thought it might be worthwhile to look at this.

One thing that jumps out at me is that Atlanta is sitting at the top and still hasn’t taken their (nearly) obligatory wins from Carolina yet.  Their other games are against us in Tampa on Sunday, in Seattle in 3 weeks and hosting the Saints in week 15.  Doesn’t look like they’re going to budge from 1st place in our division.  So really we need to hope for the Saints to do poorly which seems to be far more likely.

The Saints will face the Bengals this week (Go Cincinatti!), then host the Rams who have as much to play for as any team in the NFL with what with their muddled division.  Following their (possible) loss to St. Louis, the Saints will then travel to Baltimore to try and do what we were unable to last week.  Then they will hopefully lose out their final two games, week 16 in Atlanta and week 17 when they host the Bucs in the Super Dome.

As for the Bucs, we’re all hoping to win EVERY game, of course, but I imagine most of us have been eyeing the Washington, Detroit and Seattle games as the more winnable games of the final stretch.  Of those three (none of which are shoe-ins in my opinion) I’m worried about the Seattle game the most.  They will more than likely have more to play for than anyone as that NFC west seed is basically up for grabs.  Atlanta is solid but we came within a yard in THEIR home.  Season finale looks like it could be do or die for us and the Saints.  Hopefully we can pay them back for the sound thrashing they gave us earlier in the year…

Of course, it IS possible that the Bucs AND the Saints get the wildcard spots, but that’s gonna require a lot of help. 

Please discuss and feel free to make picks, predictions and ridicule my table-making skills.  (You have to admit that the cream-sicle color scheme is money, though...)

Content provided by a member of Bucs Nation and does not necessarily reflect the view or opinions of Bucs Nation.

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