The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have about a 30% chance of making the playoffs.That's what the statistical models of Football Outsiders (32.1%) and numberFire(30.04%) say, although FiveThirtyEight has them at 19% and the New York Times' fun playoff simulator gives them a 15% chance.
Those numbers represent a massive increase over last week, when those same models gave the Bucs just a 5-11% chance of making the playoffs.
The key game in all of those will come in two weeks, when the Bucs take on the Atlanta Falcons in Tampa. Winning that game would get them into second place in the division, and have them taking over the second spot in the NFC wild card race -- assuming they beat the Matt Hasselbeck-led Indianapolis Colts this weekend.
Better yet, the Bucs will get a chance to eliminate three other direct competitors in the three weeks after they face the Falcons, when they take on the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears. And if they win out, they're almost guaranteed a playoff spot. If they lose one game, they're still exceedingly likely to make it in: the New York Times gives them a 99% chance to make the playoffs with one more loss, unless that loss comes against the Falcons: then they have a 97% chance.
In all, the Bucs are still an underdog to make the playoffs, but things are definitely looking up.