Four weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 3-5 and heading for the NFL cellars once again, with tough games against the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs just around the corner. Since then, the Bucs have won three straight games, are 6-5 and just one game out of the NFC South lead.
Just as significantly, they’re only half a game behind an NFC wild card, with Washington in the lead there holding a 6-4-1 record. In other words: the Bucs are now really close to nabbing a playoff spot for the first time since the 2007 season. This is the closest they’ve come since 2010, in fact.
That said, the road to get there is not easy. The Bucs either need the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons to drop a game or two, but those Falcons have a very easy schedule the rest of the way. Or, they need to get into the wild card — and there, too, they need teams with easy schedules to drop games.
More importantly, the Bucs need to start winning out. And with the San Diego Chargers next Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys (in Dallas) the week after and two games against the rather up-and-down New Orleans Saints still on the menu, the Bucs have their work cut out for them.
That’s why Five Thirty Eight gives the Bucs just a 24% chance of making the playoffs. The road ahead is tough — but it’s far from impossible, and a one-in-four chance is better than anything the Bucs have seen in years.