With yesterday's win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still in the playoff hunt. Yes, really. Look at the standings.
Yes, the Bucs are only two games behind the Atlanta Falcons -- and that's with one game against the Falcons remaining. Win that one, something that should be doable given the fact that it's at home and they already beat Atlanta in the Georgia Dome, and the Bucs need to make up just one more game to get to second place in the division. A spot that should be good enough for a wild card, if they also continue to win other games.
That's not as unlikely as it seems. The Bucs have been playing better football the past couple of weeks than they did at the start of the season, and they don't have all that difficult a schedule remaining. Over the rest of the season they face the Philadelphia Eagles (4-5), the Indianapolis Colts (4-5), the Atlanta Falcons (6-3), the New Orleans Saints (4-6), the St. Louis Rams (4-5), the Chicago Bears (4-5) and the Carolina Panthers (9-0). That's only two winning teams, and one of them they've already beaten once this year.
Even better for the Bucs' chances is the fact that almost all of these are direct competitors for the NFC's second Wild Card playoff spots, meaning that every win not only helps them but hurts the rest of the NFC. Only the Panthers, who basically have the NFC South locked up, and the AFC's Colts are not competing with the Bucs.
Of course, all of this is unlikely. The Bucs likely need to win all but one of their games to qualify for the Wild Card playoffs, and even one loss would leave them with a 10-6 record -- which may not be good enough, as we saw in 2010. Last week, Football Outsiders gave the Bucs just a 6.5% chance of making it to the playoffs. That's not exactly good -- but it's not nothing, either.