DLT's NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 13

Really Josh, We have a darn good shot at this. - Streeter Lecka

It was a wild week 12 in the NFL - where do the Bucs stand and who do they need help from?

Seed Team W-L-T Div Rec Conf Rec SOV Remaining Games
1 Atlanta 10-1 2-1 6-1 .380 vs. NO, @Car, vs.NYG, @Det, vs. TB
2 San Francisco 8-2-1 2-0-1 6-2-1 .477 @StL, vs. Mia, @NE, @Sea, vs. Ari
3 Chicago 8-3 2-1 5-2 .397 vs. Sea, @Min, vs GB, @Ari, @Det
4 NY Giants 7-4 2-2 6-2 .480 @Was, vs.NO, @Atl, @Bal, vs.Phil
5 Green Bay 7-4 2-0 5-3 .487 vs. Min, vs. Det, @Chi, vs. Tenn, @Min
6 Seattle 6-5 0-3 4-4 .492 @Chi, vs. Ari, @Buf, vs. SF, vs. StL
Tampa Bay 6-5 2-2 3-5 .281 @Den, vs. Phil, @NO, vs. StL, @Atl
Minnesota 6-5 2-1 4-4 .402 @GB, vs. Chi, @StL, @Hou, vs. GB
Washington 5-6 2-1 5-4 .463 vs.NYG, vs. Bal, @Clev, @Phi, @Dal
Dallas 5-6 2-2 4-5 .396 vs. Phil, @Cin, vs. Pitt, vs. NO, @Was
New Orleans 5-6 2-1 3-4 .481 @Atl, @NYG, vs.TB, @Dal, vs. CAR

This Week's NFC Clinching Scenarios

Atlanta can clinch the NFC South with a victory over New Orleans AND a loss by Tampa Bay.

Atlanta can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over New Orleans AND a loss by Minnesota OR Seattle.

Bucs Clinching Scenarios

Tampa Bay cannot clinch a playoff spot this week

If the Playoffs started today...

Atlanta and San Francisco would have byes

Seattle would travel to Chicago to face the Bears.

Green Bay would go to New York to take on the Giants.

What Happened Last Week

Atlanta ended the Bucs' four game winning streak.

San Francisco took down New Orleans.

Chicago blasted Minnesota.

The Giants crushed Green Bay.

Miami upset Seattle.

Washington stunned Dallas on Thanksgiving.

Why are the Bucs not among the playoff six?

Atlanta leads Tampa Bay by 4 games in the division.

Green Bay leads the Bucs by 1 game for the fifth seed. If the teams are tied, they hold the tie-breakers for conference record and strength of victory.

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 3-5.

Futurecast

If the Bucs go 5-0 to finish 11-5:

The Buccaneers can still win the NFC South, although it would take a complete collapse by the Falcons. Atlanta would have to go 1-4 win one of those four losses coming to the Bucs in the season finale. Tampa Bay would win the division by virtue of a better division record 4-2 versus 3-3.

More realistically, the Bucs would need to focus on the wild card. There IS a scenario that the Buccaneers do not get in at 11-5. If Green Bay, Chicago, Seattle and Tampa Bay all finish at 11-5, Green Bay would win the NFC North by having a better division record than the Bears, Seattle and Chicago would be the wildcards based on better conference record than Tampa Bay,

For the Bucs to be ensured of a playoff spot, Seattle, Green Bay or Chicago would need to finish 10-6.

Most likely scenario for the Bucs to make the playoffs at 11-5: Seattle loses at least one more game on their schedule.

If the Bucs go 4-1 to finish 10-6:

If the loss is to the Broncos, the division could still be in play - but Atlanta would have to lose out (0-5). The Bucs would still win based on division record.

Bottom line, Tampa Bay does not win tie-breakers against Seattle or Green Bay. Both teams are well ahead on conference record. Even if the Bucs match their conference record, they lose the strength of victory tie-breaker. They would need the Packers to finish 2-3 OR Seattle to finish 3-2 to ensure a playoff spot.

They would also need Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas and Washington to sustain at least one loss.

There is one scenario where if Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Green Bay are tied (with Minnesota beating Green Bay both times), the Bucs would win the tie-breaker as Minnesota's sweep of the Packers would eliminate Green Bay and the Bucs head-to-head would beat Minnesota.

Also, if the Packers and Vikings split but the Packers finish with a worse division or conference record than Minnesota - again, the Bucs would win the tie-breaker.

However, if the Packers and Viking split but the Packers finish with a better division or conference record than Minnesota, Green Bay would win the tie-breaker against both the Vikings and the Bucs (they will most likely finish with a better conference record or win on SOV).

Most likely scenario for the Bucs to make the playoffs at 10-6: Seattle finishes 3-2 while Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas and Washington do no better than 4-1.

If the Bucs go 3-2 to finish 9-7:

Tampa Bay would need Seattle to finish 2-3 OR Green Bay to finish 1-4. They would also need two losses from Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas and Washington.

Most likely scenario for the Bucs to make the playoffs at 9-7: Seattle finishes 2-3 while Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas and Washington finish no better than 3-2.

It is highly unlikely the Bucs would make the playoffs with a record worse than 9-7.

Who to root for in Week 13 (other than the Bucs, of course)

Atlanta to beat New Orleans on TNF - Yes, the Bucs have slim hopes at the division title but even if Atlanta wins this game, those hopes are still alive (assuming the Bucs win in Denver). More realistically, the Bucs are fighting for a wildcard and the Saints are a primary competitor. One more loss could do some serious damage to their confidence.

Chicago to beat Seattle - If would be a big loss for the Seahawks, dealing them another conference loss and more importantly, putting them behind the Bucs if Tampa Bay can pull out a win at Mile High.

Minnesota to beat Green Bay - We'd like the Bucs to have multiple paths to the playoffs, another loss by the Packers gives them an additional conference loss and inches them closer to the Bucs (who would be tied with them). Remember, Tampa Bay owns the tiebreaker with the Vikings.

St. Louis to beat San Francisco - This one is unlikely, but the sooner Atlanta can clinch home field, the sooner they'll begin resting players.

Philadelphia to upset Dallas - While Dallas doesn't feel like they are a threat, keeping them on the losing end would be a good thing.

NY Giants to beat Washington - Looking over our shoulder a bit, we need to make sure the Redskins stay dead and buried.

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