As Sander has pointed out, the Bucs are holding on to the first overall pick in the NFL draft. Many pundits have said that both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans do have an opportunity to catch the Buccaneers and perhaps pass them.
Indeed, thanks to New Orleans win over Chicago last night, their lead has slimmed a bit.
Still, things are looking good for Tampa Bay if they keep on doing what they do - lose.
Looking at the three 2-12 teams still in contention (Oakland can really only get back to the number one pick if all three other 2-12 teams win due to their strong strength of schedule) they share five common opponents (Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers, Redskins).
That leaves the three division opponents -
Tennessee - Jaguars, Colts, Texans
Each division victory counts as 2 because they play the opponent twice. Each loss, in turn also counts as two. Each divison opponent has division games remaining.
|vs. BAL, vs. Jax
|@Jax, vs. Indy
With Atlanta playing both New Orleans and Carolina and the Saints playing both the Falcons and Tampa Bay, thats a lot of opportunities for double victories. Of course, in the AFC South, Jacksonville and Tennessee play each other, meaning one of these teams will be eliminated from competiton while the loser gets a two game victory added to their resume. Both end with games against division opponents, so more 2 game opportunites arise in Week 17.
Other than the divisional opponents, these are the other teams Bucs fans need to watch out for.
|vs. Indy, @Was
|@STL, vs. Phil
|vs. NE, @Mia
|vs. Min, vs. NY Jets
|vs. Det, @Min
|@TB, vs. Det
The Bucs want all but the four teams at the bottom to sustain victories in at least one of the last two games.
Yes. It's all a little crazy and slightly confusing. After Thursday night, we'll know who the Bucs' main competition is for the number one overall pick.
Here's a primer to make it simple for this week:
Week 16 -
Tennessee to beat Jacksonville - Tennessee is closer to the Bucs than Jacksonville, would elimintate Tennessee as a threat. Jacksonville WON which means the Bucs are competing with the Titans for that number one overall pick.
Cleveland to beat Carolina - With the Browns a common opponent, won't hurt the Bucs as much as a Carolina victory.
NY Giants to beat St. Louis - Helps Bucs, hurts Tenn and
Miami to beat Minnesota - Helps Bucs,
hurts Jacksonville. Jacksonville's win puts them out of competition. Loss by Minnesota still helps the Bucs.
Houston to Beat Baltimore - Baltimore a common opponent, Houston would count as two wins for both
Jax and Indy.
Kansas City to beat Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh is a common opponent, Kansas City win would hurt Tennessee
Philadelphia to beat Washington - Washington is a common opponent, Philly win would hurt both
Jax and Tennessee. Washington won.
San Diego to beat San Francisco -
Hurts Jacksonville. After Jacksonville's victory, this game no longer has an impact on the first overall pick
Indianapolis to beat Dallas - Helps with two wins vs. one win for a net plus one on both
Jacksonville and Tennessee.
Obviously, if the Bucs pull off the upset of Green Bay, their hopes of securing the number one overall pick in the draft is finished. Still, watching that many Packer fans walk out of Raymond James Stadium dejected that they lost to a 2-12 team just might be worth it. Naaaaah.
Updated: A previous version of this article incorrectly said the Bucs needed Minnesota to beat Miami. Obviously, it should be the other way around as Minnesota is on Tampa Bay's schedule and Miami is not. Updated with results from Thursday Night and Saturday Night.