The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-4 and just one game out of the playoff picture, but this is a team that will be a legitimate contender in the NFC this season.
A number of factors—from quarterback Josh Freeman's rebound to improvements on defense to big hits this offseason—have vaulted the Bucs from the division cellar to arguably one team no one wants to play come January.
To make the postseason, the Bucs will likely have to finish 5-2 down the stretch. And even then (remember 2010?), the playoffs are no guarantee at 10-6. But this is a football team built to both make and potentially win in the postseason.
In the following slides, we present five reasons why the Bucs are legitimate contenders in the NFC this season.