The Bucs Are Not in the Playoffs, Yet

December 29 – At 9-6, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all but secured the sixth and final spot in the NFC playoff race. But the Pewter Pirates can clinch a playoff spot with an Atlanta Falcons loss or tie on Sunday to the Miami Dolphins.

Going into their game against Baltimore on Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knew they could secure a trip to the playoffs with a win and an Atlanta Falcons (7-7) loss or tie to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Well, the Bucs did their part by downing the Ravens in impressive fashion, 22-10. Now, Tampa Bay will wait and see what happens with the Falcons-Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida at 1:00 p.m. ET.

If the Dolphins defeat or tie the Falcons, Tampa Bay will be the sixth and final seed in the NFC playoffs, which means they will play the third seeded team. As of right now, that team is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles (9-5) host the New York Giants (7-7) on Sunday. If Philadelphia wins, they procure the third seed in the NFC playoff race and the Bucs and Eagles will clash on Wild Card Weekend for the second consecutive year. But if the Giants win, they will still have a chance at winning the NFC East and it will present an interesting scenario.

The Bucs host the Eagles on Sunday, Jan. 6, and the game could turn out to be nothing more than an exhibition game by next weekend. If the Bucs and Eagles have secured playoff spots, then they will not want to show each other too much in terms of strategies and plays since they will meet the very next weekend in the playoffs. Both teams will also likely use the time to rest their players since neither team will get an off week.

But if the Falcons win and the Eagles lose on Sunday, the Philly-Tampa Bay showdown at Ray-Jay could be a playoff game in itself. The Bucs would need to win in order to advance to the playoffs while the Eagles would have to win in order to capture the NFC East Division title.

Of course, if the Falcons (at St. Louis 1 p.m.) and Giants (host Packers 1 p.m.) lose next Sunday, the outcome of the Bucs-Eagles game would not matter in terms of playoff positioning.

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