DLT's NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 12

I see Playoffs...out there. - Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

It's Thanksgiving and the Bucs are still playing meaningful football. What has to happen for Tampa Bay to be playing football in January? Take out your slide rulers and get ready for DLT's NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 12!

Note: These scenarios are to the best of our understanding of the Bucs' situation and are subject to change as new or more accurate information and/or understanding comes to light. In other words, this stuff is confusing. We think we got it all...but there might be a scenario out there we missed or didn't consider. We do the best we can to make heads or tails of this craziness.

Seed Team W-L-T Div Rec Conf Rec SOV Remaining Games
1 Atlanta 9-1 1-1 5-1 .367 @TB, vs. NO, @Car, vs.NYG, @Det, vs. TB
2 San Francisco 7-2-1 2-0-1 5-2-1 .483 @NO, @StL, vs. Mia, @NE, @Sea, vs. Ari
3 Green Bay 7-3 2-0 5-2 .486 @NYG, vs. Min, vs. Det, @Chi, vs. Tenn, @Min
4 NY Giants 6-4 2-2 5-2 .432 vs.GB, @Was, vs.NO, @Atl, @Bal, vs.Phil
5 Chicago 7-3 1-1 4-2 .364 vs. Min, vs. Sea, @Min, vs GB, @Ari, @Det
6 Seattle 6-4 0-3 4-4 .517 @Mia, @Chi, vs. Ari, @Buf, vs. SF, vs. StL
Tampa Bay 6-4 2-1 3-4 .300 vs. Atl, @Den, vs. Phil, @NO, vs. StL, @Atl
Minnesota 6-4 2-0 4-3 .398 @Chi, @GB, vs. Chi, @StL, @Hou, vs. GB
New Orleans 5-5 2-1 3-3 .500 vs. SF, @Atl, @NYG, vs.TB, @Dal, vs. CAR
Dallas 5-5 2-1 4-4 .380 vs. Was, vs. Phil, @Cin, vs. Pitt, vs. NO, @Was

This Week's NFC Clinching Scenarios

None

Bucs Clinching Scenarios

None

If the Playoffs started today...

Atlanta and San Francisco would have byes.

Seattle would travel to Green Bay while the Chicago Bears would head to New York to face the Super Bowl Champion Giants.

What happened last week

The Bucs escaped Carolina with an overtime win.

Atlanta rallied past Arizona.

San Francisco blasted a Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears.

Green Bay fought past Detroit.

New Orleans crushed Oakland

Dallas slipped by Cleveland in overtime.

The Giants, Seattle and Minnesota were on bye.

Why are the Bucs not among the playoff six?

Atlanta leads the Bucs by 3 games in the division.

Chicago leads the Bucs by 1 game for the fifth seed.

Tampa Bay, Seattle and Minnesota are tied for the sixth and final playoff spot - both Tampa Bay and Seattle have beaten Minnesota, executing tie-breaker number two of the three or more clubs tie-breaker - head-to-head sweep. That eliminates Minnesota and leaves Tampa Bay and Seattle. Seattle wins the tie-breaker executing tie-breaker number 2 in the two club tie breaker which is best winning percentage in conference. Seattle is 4-4 in conference games while Tampa Bay is 3-4.

Future Cast

If the Bucs go 6-0 to finish 12-4

Tampa Bay still has a decent shot at Atlanta. If they win out, that would hang two more losses on the Falcons bringing them to 3. They would need to lose one more game to New Orleans or NY Giants at home or Carolina or Detroit on the road.

For the wildcard, the Bucs should be safe as their strength of victory would go through the roof.

If the Bucs go 5-1 to finish 11-5

Best case scenario would be for the one loss to be to Denver. They are a non-conference game and it would allow the Bucs to finish 8-4 in conference play.

For the division, the Bucs would have to sweep the Falcons and have Atlanta finish 2-4. If the one loss is to Atlanta, the Bucs would need Atlanta to finish 2-4 and sustain their other losses to Carolina and New Orleans dropping their division record to 3-3 OR lose at least one of those two contests (preferably New Orleans) and sustain losses to the Giants and Detroit. That would drop their conference record to 7-5, tying them with the Bucs and going to strength of victory. Currently the Falcons have a slightly better SOV than the Bucs, but with only a quality win against the Bucs and a win over Carolina would drop their SOV. Tampa Bay would have wins over Atlanta, New Orleans and Denver to pump up their SOV but also have wins over Philly and St. Louis, which would hurt their SOV.

11-5 would put the Bucs in good shape for a wild card. As long as Seattle sustains a loss to one of their NFC opponents and the Bucs loss comes to Denver, the conference tie-breaker would flip in the Bucs' favor.

If the loss by the Bucs came to an NFC opponent, Tampa Bay would need Seattle's loss to come to an NFC opponent, preferably the Bears or 49ers to hurt their strength of victory. Currently the Seahawks SOV is an impressive .517 compared to Tampa Bay's .300.

As long as the Bucs match victories with Minnesota, the Vikings can't get the edge on the Bucs because of the head-to-head. Even in a three-way tie with Chicago, the Vikings and Bears are in the same division and if the Vikings win that tie-breaker, they lose the tie-breaker to the Bucs. If they lose the divisional tie-breaker, they're out.

As for the Bears, the Bucs could conceivably catch the Bears if Chicago sustains two losses. That would put the Bears at 8-4 in conference play - but Tampa Bay's one loss would have to be to Denver. However, that leads to Strength of Victory and until the Bucs notch a few big wins, that's not going to be helpful.

Same scenario with Green Bay, if Chicago beats them out for the division, both losses for the Pack would need to be in conference and the Bucs could only lose one conference game. Again, Strength of victory does not favor the Bucs.

Most likely scenario for an 11-5 Bucs finish in the playoffs - either Seattle finishes 4-2 OR worse or Green Bay/Chicago finish 3-3 or worse while Dallas and New Orleans lose at least one more game.

If the Bucs go 4-2 to finish 10-6

It would be much tougher for the division depending on who losses come to. Atlanta obviously can't sweep the Bucs or its over. If the teams split, the Bucs would have to beat New Orleans and need Atlanta to finish 1-5 with losses to both New Orleans and Carolina. That would put Atlanta at a 3-3 record in division. Tampa Bay would finish 4-2 in division, winning the tie-breaker.

More realistically, the Wild Card would still be in play. Tampa Bay would need both Seattle and Minnesota to lose two of their remaining games. Seattle would need to lose both of their games within conference to finish 7-5 in conference play while one of the two Bucs losses would need to be Denver. That ties Seattle at 7-5 and they go to strength of victory - where Seattle currently has a big advantage. Tampa Bay's wins would need to come against some good opponents. Ideally, sweeping Atlanta would dramatically improve SOV, but if they fail to beat the Falcons both times, the Bucs can still get better at SOV with wins over Atlanta and New Orleans. It may not be enough though, the Bucs might want Seattle to finish 3-3 and not face them in an ultimate tie-breaker.

If Seattle gets enough of the right wins to win the tie-breaker, the Bucs could conceivably still catch the Bears or Packers. Either team would need to go 2-4 as the conference record and strength of victory would not favor Tampa Bay.

The Bucs would also need to keep an eye out for Dallas or New Orleans, who get more realistic as a threat at 10-6. The Bucs would need to beat New Orleans and win their other two division games against Atlanta or have New Orleans sustain a second loss.

Dallas wins head-to-head with Tampa Bay, the Bucs would need them to lose two games or end up in a scenario where a 3-way tie leads to a conference record or strength of victory tie-breaker.

Most likely scenario for a Bucs 10-6 finish in the playoffs - Seattle finishes 3-3 or worse, Vikings 4-2 or worse, Dallas and New Orleans both lose twice.

If the Bucs go 3-3 and finish 9-7

For the division, Atlanta would have to lose out 0-6, New Orleans would need to lose twice (with the losses coming to the Bucs and Carolina) and with the Bucs taking both from Atlanta - Bucs would win the division record tie-breaker.

In the wildcard, Seattle would need to finish 2-4 OR Green Bay/Chicago would need to finish 1-5 AND Dallas would need to finish 3-3 while New Orleans finishes 4-2 with losses to the Bucs and Panthers. Minnesota would also need to finish 3-3.

Most likely scenario for a Bucs 9-7 finish in the playoffs - Seattle finishes 2-4 OR Chicago 1-5, New Orleans, Minnesota and Dallas to finish 3-3 or worse.

If the Bucs go 2-4 and Finish 8-8

Division is out.

In the wildcard, Seattle would need to finish 1-5 OR Green Bay/Chicago lose out AND Dallas would need to finish 2-4. Also, The Bucs wins would need to be over New Orleans and Atlanta, while New Orleans would need to finish 3-3 with all three losses coming within division or New Orleans finishes 2-4. Minnesota would need to also finish 2-4.

If the Bucs are chasing either Green Bay or Chicago, Both of Minnesota's wins would need to come against that team - as Minnesota faces them twice each.

8-8 would also open the door for another team like Arizona, Detroit or Washington to sneak back into the conversation.

Needless to say, the Bucs making the post season at 8-8 would by highly improbable.

Most likely scenario for a Bucs 8-8 finish in the playoffs - Seattle goes 1-5, Dallas, New Orleans and Minnesota finish 2-4 and none of the 4-6 teams get to 8 wins.

Who to Root for in Week 12 (other than the Bucs, of course) -

San Francisco to beat New Orleans - Cool off the Saints and hang another conference loss on them.

NY Giants to beat Green Bay - A fourth loss for the Packers would get the Bucs closer to them.

Minnesota to beat Chicago - As long as the Bucs match victories with the Vikings, they should win most tie-breakers scenarios. Getting Chicago closer to the Bucs with a fourth loss would help Tampa Bay's cause.

Miami to beat Seattle - While it wouldn't be a conference loss, a Seahawk loss and a Bucs win puts Tampa Bay one up.

Washington to beat Dallas on Thanksgiving - Hang another loss on the Cowboys and keep them out of the picture.

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