The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just one game out of a playoff spot after demolishing the Eagles in Philadelphia today as they hold a 5-5 record. They're just one game behind the 6-4 Atlanta Falcons, who lost to the Indianapolis Colts today, and they play those self-same Falcons in just two weeks, when they'll get the chance to leapfrog them. The Falcons and the 7-3 Minnesota Vikings are currently in position to grab the two NFC wild card spots.
The Falcons aren't the only ones making things easy for the Bucs: almost every direct competitors for a playoff spot lost today: Washington (now 4-6), the Eagles (4-6), the St. Louis Rams (4-6) and the Chicago Bears (4-6). That leaves the Bucs and the Seahawks, who beat the 49ers, as the only 5-5 teams in the NFC right now and in shared third place for one of two wild card spots, behind only the Falcons and Vikings.
Looking at the rest of the schedule, the Bucs have a pretty doable slate of games. They head to Indianapolis where they'll face the Andrew Luck-less Colts next week, then they take on the Atlanta Falcons at home -- a team they've already beaten on the road and one that hasn't won a game in three weeks. The hapless Saints, a trip to the Rams on Thursday night football, the Bears at home and finally the Panthers -- who may be resting players in the final week -- fill out the rest of the schedule.
Will the Bucs win all of those games? Probably not, and the odds for them to make the playoffs are still long. But they can afford to lose one or maybe even two games, and the chances of their making the playoffs just got a whole lot better.
Updated after the NFL's late games.