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Buccaneers are half a game out of a playoff spot

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a game, and that means it's time for optimism. Here's a bit of that: the Bucs are just half a game out of a playoff spot, as Greg Auman points out.

So let's start with the obvious here: the Bucs haven't exactly been good enough to believe they can get into the playoffs at this point. They're not winning the division: the Atlanta Falcons are 5-0 and the Carolina Panthers 4-0. Something ludicrous would have to happen for both of those teams to give up their lead over the Bucs -- and it's exceedingly likely that one of those two teams grabs the final wild card spot. More than that, the Bucs would have to start playing much better football than they have so far for the team to win enough games to threaten to head to the playoffs.

That's not impossible, though. Sunday was a decent start, as they ran all over one of the best run defenses in the NFL, managed not to turn the ball over and got a couple of takeaways on defense. The biggest problem on display was still their inability to consistently cover anyone, but if they can find ways to either eliminate that problem or compensate for it with a better pass rush, they have a chance to win a decent amount of games.

And that could be all they need to get into the playoffs. Stranger things have happened than a 2-3 team ending with a 9-7 or 10-6 record and sneaking into a second wild card spot. That doesn't make it likely, as the Bucs have to beat plenty of good teams to get to that point, but it does mean that it's far too early to give up on this season.