DLT's NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 15

Even the mascot was depressed on Sunday - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs suffered a devastating blow to the post-season hopes this week. Can they still find away into the playoffs?

Seed Team W-L-T Div Rec Conf Rec SOV Remaining Games
1 y- Atlanta 11-2 3-2 7-2 .399 vs.NYG, @Det, vs. TB
2 San Francisco 9-3-1 2-1-1 6-3-1 .479 @NE, @Sea, vs. Ari
3 Green Bay 9-4 4-0 7-3 .440 @Chi, vs. Tenn, @Min
4 NY Giants 8-5 2-3 7-3 .494 @Atl, @Bal, vs.Phil
5 Seattle 8-5 1-3 6-4 .520 @Buf, vs. SF, vs. StL
6 Chicago 8-5 2-2 5-4 .422 vs GB, @Ari, @Det
Washington 7-6 3-1 6-4 .505 @Clev, @Phi, @Dal
Dallas 7-6 3-2 5-5 .418 vs. Pitt, vs. NO, @Was
Minnesota 7-6 3-2 5-5 .399 @StL, @Hou, vs. GB
St. Louis 6-6-1 4-0-1 5-3-1 .481 vs.Min, @TB, @Sea
Tampa Bay 6-7 2-2 3-6 .321 @NO, vs. StL, @Atl

z- Clinched homefield

y- Division Champions

x- Clinched Playoff spot

NFL Tie-breakers

ESPN's Playoff Machine

This Week's Clinching Scenarios

Atlanta has won the NFC South. Atlanta can clinch home field advantage with a win AND Green Bay AND San Francisco loss or tie. The Falcons can clinch a first round bye with a win AND either a loss by Green Bay or San Francisco OR a tie and a loss by Green Bay.

San Francisco can clinch the NFC West with a win and a Seattle loss. The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot with a win OR a tie and Minnesota, Washington and Dallas loss or tie OR a tie and Chicago and Minnesota loss OR a loss and losses by Minnesota, Washington, Dallas and a loss or tie by Seattle.

Green Bay can clinch the NFC North with a win. The Packers can clinch a playoff spot with a tie AND losses by Washington and Dallas AND a loss or tie by Seattle.

Bucs Clinching Scenarios

The Bucs cannot clinch a playoff spot this week.

If the Playoffs started today....

Atlanta and San Francisco would have byes.

Chicago would travel to Green Bay while The Giants would host Seattle.

Why are the Bucs not among the playoff six?

Atlanta has won the NFC South. Seattle leads the Bucs by two games for the 5th seed. Chicago leads the Bucs by two games for the sixth seed.

What Happened Last Week

Disaster struck for the Buccaneers as it was the worse case scenario.

Tampa Bay was upset by Philadelphia.

Atlanta was upset by Carolina.

San Francisco beat up on Miami.

Green Bay rallied past Detroit

Seattle embarrassed Arizona to move into the 5th seed.

Minnesota stunned Chicago.

Washington surprised Baltimore.

Dallas squeaked out a close one against Cincinnati.

St. Louis rallied past Buffalo

FutureCast

If the Bucs win out and finish 9-7

The tough thing for the Bucs this week was that everyone else won. Some teams, like Washington, won games they were expected to lose - while the Bucs, of course, lost one they were expected to win. That's never a good combination for your playoff scenarios.

First thing's first - Both Dallas and Washington must lose two of their last three or none of the scenarios work in the Bucs favor. Considering Washington has Cleveland and Philadelphia on their schedule, it doesn't seem likely. But neither did the Eagles beating Tampa Bay.

Assuming both do struggle down the stretch, Tampa Bay must have Minnesota lose at least once and they must beat St. Louis.

Considering how the Seahawks are playing football right now, it's not very likely they will lose all three games. The Bucs would need Seattle to lose at least two out of the three with one of the losses coming to Rams. The Bucs would win the tie-breaker on record versus common opponents.

More probable, Seattle will finish at least 10-6 and out of the reach of the Buccaneers.

That leads us to Chicago. The Bears, like the Bucs, are in free fall but Chicago built up some early wins to help themselves out. We all are big time Packer fans this week because they hold the key to the tie-breaker between the Bucs and Bears.

If Green Bay beats Chicago, then Chicago would need to lose one more game - either to Arizona or Detroit. This resulting victory against Arizona or Detroit would bring down the Bears strength of victory far enough that the Buccaneers (assuming they win out) would surpass them. However, if the Bears beat Green Bay, even if Chicago loses their last two games, Tampa Bay will not win a two team tie-breaker with the Bears.

If the Bears beat Green Bay, the Bucs need Minnesota to also finish 9-7. Division tie-breakers are applied first and Minnesota would knock out Chicago based on division record. The Bucs would knock out Minnesota based on head-to-head.

Best case scenario for the Bucs at 9-7: Dallas loses to Pittsburgh and New Orleans but beats Washington. Washington also gets upset by either Cleveland or Philadelphia. Chicago loses to Green Bay and either Arizona or Detroit. Minnesota loses one of their last three (St. Louis, Houston, or Green Bay).

If the Bucs finish 8-8 or worse

Unfortunately for the Bucs, Washington's unexpected win over Baltimore and Dallas' come from behind win over Cincinnati combined with the Bucs loss to the Eagles ended any wiggle room they had.

Washington plays Dallas at the end of the season - so one of these teams will not lose out. If Seattle were to collapse and lose out, they still would own the tie-breaker because they would finish with a better conference record.

If the Bears lose out and Minnesota finishes 1-3, the winner of Washington and Dallas would get the spot as they would own the tie-breaker for all involved.

Who To Root For This Week

The Bucs must beat New Orleans.

Green Bay really must beat Chicago or the avenues to the playoffs begin to look really bleak.

Pittsburgh really needs to beat Dallas.

Root for Buffalo to cool off Seattle and pull the upset.

Root for Cleveland to pull the upset on the Redskins.

Root for St. Louis to take Minnesota down a peg (unless Chicago beats Green Bay, then we need Minnesota to stay in it a bit longer).

Note: If the Bucs lose to New Orleans and both Chicago and Seattle win - this may be the last NFC Playoff Scenario Madness article for 2012 as the Bucs would be mathematically eliminated.

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