Tampa Bay Buccaneers Still Have a Slim Chance at Making Playoffs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a miracle to make the playoffs in 2012.
After losing on the final play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14, the Bucs find themselves at 6-7 and in 11th place in the NFC. In order for the Bucs to be one of the conference's six playoff teams, they need two things to happen.
They must be perfect the rest of the way and need the teams ahead of them to lose at least two of their final three games in order to win the playoff tiebreakers, per league tie-breaking procedures.
If the Bucs can put together wins against the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons to finish with a 9-7 record, they could still find themselves in the playoffs and finish as high as the fifth seed in the NFC.
Let’s take a look at the complicated symphony required for the Bucs to pass the five teams that currently stand between them and the postseason.
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams are currently the 10th seed in the NFC playoff rankings with a 6-6-1 record.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Rams for their final home game on Week 16. Again, the Bucs must win their final three games in order to make the postseason so that includes defeating the Rams.
A Rams loss to the Bucs would leave them with a best possible record of 8-7-1, placing the Bucs ahead of the Rams without needing a tiebreaker.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own the tiebreaker over the Minnesota Vikings due to head-to-head record from their Thursday night victory earlier this season.
With that remaining schedule at least one loss sure sounds possible.
Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins
Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, they lost to both teams earlier in the year and therefore would lose any tiebreaker due to head-to-head record.
In order for the Bucs to make the playoffs, both teams have to finish the season with no more than one win to end with an 8-8 or 8-7-1 record.
The 8-7-1 scenario would have to involve the two teams tying in their Week 17 matchup and is the only scenario in which the Bucs can make the playoffs at 8-8.
If the Bucs can manage to finish ahead of the Rams, Vikings, Cowboys and Redskins, their first opportunity at making the playoffs is to pass the Chicago Bears.
The Bears are currently the sixth seed in the NFC with an 8-5 record after starting the season 7-1.
If the Bears continue to struggle in the final three weeks of the season and finish 1-2, the Bucs would own the tie-breaker and advance to the postseason based on strength of victory.
The other team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could pass to advance to the playoffs is the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are currently the fifth seed in the NFC with an 8-5 record.
In order for the Bucs to get the tiebreaker against the Seahawks, they will need to finish tied in conference record and with a better record against common opponents.
Confusing, I know.
If Seattle finishes 9-7, the only way for the Bucs to make the playoffs would be a Seattle win against the Bills and losses to the Rams and 49ers. This would give both the Seahawks and Bucs a 6-6 conference record. The tiebreaker would be settled by Tampa Bay's better record against common opponents (Vikings, Rams, Cowboys and Panthers).
If all these crazy things happen, the Bucs can still make the playoffs.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.