DLT's NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 14

Okay, play time is over, time to win some ballgames. - US PRESSWIRE

Things did not go according to script in this week's action as the Bucs' playoff hopes took a big blow.

Seed Team W-L-T Div Rec Conf Rec SOV Remaining Games
1 y- Atlanta 11-1 3-1 7-1 .386 @Car, vs.NYG, @Det, vs. TB
2 San Francisco 8-3-1 2-1-1 6-31 .479 vs. Mia, @NE, @Sea, vs. Ari
3 Green Bay 8-4 3-0 6-3 .474 vs. Det, @Chi, vs. Tenn, @Min
4 NY Giants 7-5 2-3 6-3 .494 vs.NO, @Atl, @Bal, vs.Phil
5 Chicago 8-4 2-1 5-3 .401 @Min, vs GB, @Ari, @Det
6 Seattle 7-5 0-3 5-4 .536 vs. Ari, @Buf, vs. SF, vs. StL
Washington 6-6 3-1 6-4 .458 vs. Bal, @Clev, @Phi, @Dal
Dallas 6-6 3-2 5-5 .361 @Cin, vs. Pitt, vs. NO, @Was
Tampa Bay 6-6 2-2 3-5 .292 vs. Phil, @NO, vs. StL, @Atl
Minnesota 6-6 2-2 4-5 .368 vs. Chi, @StL, @Hou, vs. GB
St. Louis 5-6-1 4-0-1 5-3-1 .492 @Buf, vs.Min, @TB, @Sea

z- Clinched homefield

y- Division Champions

x- Clinched Playoff spot

NFL Tie-breakers

ESPN's Playoff Machine

This Week's Clinching Scenarios

Atlanta has clinched the NFC South. They can clinch a first round bye with a win AND losses/ties by Chicago AND Green Bay OR Loss by San Francisco.

Atlanta can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win AND losses or ties by Green Bay, Chicago AND San Francisco.

San Francisco can clinch a playoff berth with a win and losses or ties by Dallas, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Washington AND either a loss or tie by Seattle or St. Louis.

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 be at the NY Giants

Seattle would be at Green Bay

What Happened Last Week

The Broncos worked the Bucs.

Atlanta outlasted New Orleans and by virtue of their victory and Tampa Bay's loss, clinched the NFC South.

St. Louis upset San Francisco in overtime.

Seattle stunned Chicago in overtime.

Green Bay took care of Minnesota.

Washington RGIII'd the Giants.

Why are the Bucs Not Among the Playoff Six?

Atlanta has won the NFC South.

Chicago is two games ahead for the fifth seed.

Seattle is one game ahead for the sixth seed (and holds conference record tie-breaker against Tampa Bay).

Futurecast

If the Bucs Win Out to finish 10-6

While Tampa Bay's playoff hopes were damaged by the Seahawks victory over the Chicago Bears, all hope is not lost.

The Bucs still have one tie-breaker avenue against Seattle.

If Tampa Bay can win out, and Seattle loses to St. Louis in the season finale, Tampa Bay can catch the Seahawks and win the tie-breaker of best winning percentage within common games.

Unfortunately, if the Seahawks beat the Rams in that finale, the Bucs will hold no tie-breaker advantages, as the two teams would be tied in conference record (assuming Seattle's loss came within conference), they would be tied in common games and Seattle would hold the edge in Strength of Victory.

If the Seattle scenario doesn't work out, the Bucs would need Chicago or Green Bay to finish no better than 1-3. Chicago would hold the tie-breaker over Tampa Bay based on record in common games. Green Bay would hold the tie-breaker based on strength of victory.

There is a scenario where if Minnesota, Green Bay (or Chicago) and Tampa Bay end up tied at 10-6, the Bucs would win the tie-breaker as Minnesota would finish with a better division record than either Green Bay or Chicago and Tampa Bay would beat Minnesota on head-to-head.

Even crazier, if Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago all finish 10-6 and tied with the Bucs - Minnesota would take the NFC North and Green Bay would take the playoff spot based on division record and beat out the Bucs by strength of victory.

With their victories this week, the Cowboys and Redskins are both a threat. They would need to lose at least one game OR one of them replace the Giants as NFC East champ and New York finishes 2-2.

The best scenario for Tampa Bay at 10-6: Seattle finishes 2-2 while Dallas and Washington finish no better than 3-1 OR the NY Giants lose out on the division and finish 2-2.

If the Bucs finish 3-1 to finish 9-7

The loss could not come to the St. Louis Rams. It would need to be to either Philadelphia, New Orleans or Atlanta. Seattle would need to finish 2-2 with one of the losses coming to the Rams and another NFC opponent (Arizona or San Francisco). Again, the Bucs would win the tie-breaker based on best record among common opponents.

Dallas and Washington would have to finish 2-2 OR whoever finishes better must win the NFC East and the Giants must finish no better than 1-3. Minnesota must be no better than 3-1.

Again, if the Seattle scenario doesn't work out, the Bucs would need the Bears to lose out OR for Chicago to finish 1-3 and those losses being to Minnesota, Green Bay and Arizona. It would give the Bucs a Strength of Victory tie-breaker.

A three way tie between Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Green Bay at 9-7 would also work in the Bucs' favor. Minnesota would eliminate Green Bay based on division record while Tampa Bay would win over Minnesota based on head-to-head.

Best Scenario for Tampa Bay at 9-7: The Bucs beat St. Louis, Seattle finishes 2-2 with one of those losses coming to St. Louis. Dallas and Washington finish 2-2 and Minnesota 3-1.

If the Bucs finish 2-2 to finish 8-8

Either loss could not come to St. Louis.

New Orleans, St. Louis and Minnesota would need to finish 2-2. Seattle would have to finish 1-3 with one of the losses coming to the Rams.

Dallas and Washington would need to finish 1-3 or whomever finishes better must win the NFC East and the NY Giants would have to lose out.

The Bucs would again beat out Seattle on the common games tie-breaker.

Even at 8-8, Chicago or Green Bay is still in play. Either Chicago or Green Bay must lose out. Minnesota, Chicago/Green Bay and Tampa Bay would need to finished tied at 8-8. Tampa Bay wins the tie break over Minnesota based on head-to-head win percentage. Division tie break would be initially used to eliminate Chicago (Minnesota wins tie break over Chicago based on best win percentage in division games).

Best Scenario for the Bucs at 8-8: The Bucs beat St. Louis, Seattle finishes 1-3 with one of the losses coming to the Rams. Dallas and Washington finish no better than 1-3 or replace the Giants as NFC East Champ and the Giants lose out.

Who To Root For This Week (Other than the Bucs)

Arizona to find an offense, go on the road and shock the world with an upset the Seahawks in front of the 12th man.

Minnesota to beat Chicago and keep them reeling. This one is important as it keep the Bucs' path to the playoffs two-fold.

Buffalo to beat the Rams and eliminate their threat.

Cincinnati to put a big dent in Dallas' hopes.

The Lions to do the impossible and upset Green Bay at Lambeau. If we don't get the Vikings over Bears, this one becomes more important.

Baltimore to end the Redskins threat.

Toss Up: New Orleans @ NY Giants - We may want New Orleans to win this because it keeps the Giants in play just in case Washington or Dallas do not cooperate. However, a win by the Saints may help them climb back into the race and make it a tougher game for the Bucs next week. If the Giants clobber New Orleans, the Saints may begin to cash in their chips and make it a bit easier for the Bucs to continue their run.

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