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The Buccaneers have a tiny, tiny chance of making the playoffs

Realistically, this is not going to happen.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

While we’ve been saying that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season is basically over, that assessment is also technically premature: the Bucs haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs, yet. And if they win five of their remaining six games, they’ll have a 9-7 record—usually good enough to get into some sort of tiebreaker situation. If they win all six remaining games that’ll almost certainly be the case.

For that to happen, though, a lot of different things have to fall the Bucs’ way. Right now they’re two games out of a wild card spot at 4-6—which sounds doable, with six games remaining. But there are five teams ahead of them for that wild card spot, plus two more tied with them.

In fact, only three NFC teams have a worse record than the Bucs right now: the 2-8 New York Giants, the 1-9 San Francisco 49ers, and the 3-7 Chicago Bears. That’s not a great situation to be in, especially given the fact that the Bucs need to start Ryan Fitzpatrick for at least one more game, and maybe longer.

The good news is that if the Bucs actually win their six remaining games, they’re likely in the playoffs. The bad news is that if they win five of their remaining six games, that becomes a lot harder—at least judging by my playing around with the ESPN playoff machine. It’s hard to find realistic scenarios where the Bucs make the playoffs with a 5-1 finish—there are generally several other teams with a 9-7 record and a better shot.

But hey, there’s a chance. And that means it’s just a little too early to definitively give up on the Bucs.

Current NFC playoff standings

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (8-2)
  3. New Orleans Saints (8-2)
  4. Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
  5. Carolina Panthers (7-3)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)

In the running: Dallas Cowboys (5-5), Detroit Lions (6-4), Green Bay Packers (5-5), Seattle Seahawks (6-4)