The playoff scenarios get tighter now going into the final season game for the NFL’s Week 17 where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of three teams chasing a single wild card berth.
It’s complicated for the New York Giants (9-6) and Green Bay Packers (9-6), if one or the other or both are victorious. But unless a rare tie occurs, the Buccaneers (9-6) will have to win in New Orleans. Then both the Giants and Packers must lose for Tampa Bay to make the playoffs. It’s simple math, but a difficult reality.
Fortunately for the possibility, the Buccaneers and Saints are closer on paper than their win records show. Bucs are actually favored in running game and fairly even in passing offense and defense. The running game of the Saints has been meager to poor, ranking No. 27 in the NFL. Saints passing game is at the top in second in the NFL, but the strong point of the Bucs defense is pass protection.
At least one thing is clear—Bucs have a feel for playoffs with the tight wild card scenarios during the final three games of the season. While many teams were either eliminated or secured a playoff berth, the tight battle for two remaining wild card spots in the NFC was like playoff intensity.
Five teams battled for two spots with New Orleans winning to secure a spot, thus rendering the final spot to a three team fight. That led to the final week contention that will have many fans on the edge of their seats. And it’s not even playoff time yet.
One scenario not expected is the pulling of starters by New Orleans as they are playing for the division title, if the Falcons lose. If the Bucs put up ferocious opposition like they did with the Seahawks last week, the Saints will need all their best moves.
One thing is for sure, the final Saints versus Buccaneers game in New Orleans this season will have fans from both teams excited at kickoff and during play. A close score in the waning minutes would ramp up fan emotions along the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
The following matchup stats might show a trend to expect, but real game data is what always counts. That will commence with the first toe to leather this Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-6)—Ranking and yards per game
No. 18—336.3 Total
No. 21—208.5 Passing
No. 7—127.8 Rushing
No. 15—334.5 Total
No. 6—201.1 Passing
No. 28—133.4 Rushing
New Orleans Saints (11-4)—Ranking and yards per game
No. 6—377.0 Total
No. 2—282.8 Passing
No. 27—94.2 Rushing
No. 5—305.5 Total
No. 2—191.3 Passing
No. 18—114.2 Rushing
Saints rank No. 27 in rushing offense, Bucs rank No. 28 in rushing defense.
Bucs rank seventh in rushing offense, Saints rank No. 18 in rushing defense.
Saints rank second in passing offense, Bucs rank sixth in passing defense.
Bucs rank 21st in passing offense, Saints rank 2nd in passing defense
As always, the goal is one game at a time. This time, only one season game remains.
Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com