The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot make the playoffs anymore, as far as I can see. I might be mistaken and there might be some tiny, tiny, super obscure scenario where they make it in—but I certainly can’t find that scenario, if it exists.
Lets’s start with why: the Bucs can’t get a better record than 8-8, and they can’t win the division. So the only way for them is to make it into the playoffs as a wild card with an 8-8 record.
But: the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons are both 8-5 right now, after the Falcons beat the Saints last ngiht, and they play each other in week 17. That means one of them will have at least a 9-7 record, even if both the Panthers and Falcons lose all their games the next three weeks. They could also both have an 8-7-1 record, if they tie their week 17 game, but that would also keep the 8-8 Bucs out of the playoffs.
With two of the Panthers, Falcons and 9-4 Saints guaranteed to be 9-7 at the end of the season, the Bucs have only one wild card spot left to grab, at most. The good news is that the Buccaneers would beat both the Panthers and the Falcons in an 8-8 scenario on tiebreakers: they’d have a better division record.
The problem: the Seattle Seahawks are also guaranteed to have at least an 8-8 record. And even if they lose the next four games and the Bucs win the next four games, the Bucs would lose to Seattle on a tiebreaker: their record in common games. So, sorry Bucs, but you’re out.
Unless, of course, I’ve missed something. I don’t think I have, but you can try playing around with the ESPN playoff machine to figure that out.