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The 11-3 Bucs won the South after the 1-13 Cincinnati Bengals stunned the 9-5 New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon, 20-13. The loss dropped the Saints to 9-6 on the season and made it impossible for them to win the South.
This marks the first time Tampa Bay has won a division title since the 1999 season, when Tampa Bay won the NFC Central Division championship. It's the Bucs' fourth division title in franchise history.
Not only did the Saints' loss give the Bucs the NFC South Division title, but it dropped the team behind the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants for the last two playoff seeds in the NFC. The Saints, who swept the Buccaneers this season, must win against the Panthers next Sunday and hope for a Giants and/or a Falcons loss in order to get in the playoffs.
While Tampa Bay won its division and is guaranteed a home playoff game, they still have plenty to play for in their two final contests of the season.
If the Buccaneers win its next two games or if the 12-3 Packers lose to the New York Jets next Sunday, Tampa Bay would secure the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC, which would give the team a bye week followed by a home playoff game in post-season play. The Pewter Pirates could also still win home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but they would need some help from the Giants.
New York is currently the No. 6 seed in the NFC and they need to defeat the 12-3 Philadelphia Eagles, who are the No. 1 seed in the NFC, in Giant Stadium next Sunday in order to clinch a playoff spot. A Giants win next Sunday along with a Bucs win on Monday night against the Steelers and again next Sunday night at Chicago would also give the Bucs home-field advantage throughout the entire NFC playoffs.
PewterReport.com will continue to keep fans posted on the NFC playoff race as it unfolds.
No. 1 PHILADELPHIA 12-3 (Clinched division and a home playoff game)
Remaining Schedule: at New York Giants
No. 2 TAMPA BAY 11-3 (Clinched division and a home playoff game)
Remaining Schedule: Pittsburgh, at Chicago
No. 3 GREEN BAY 12-3 (Clinched division and a home playoff game)
Remaining Schedule: at NY Jets
No. 4 San Francisco 10-5 (Clinched division and a home playoff game)
Remaining Schedule: at St. Louis
No. 5 ATLANTA 9-5-1
Remaining Schedule: at Cleveland
No. 6 NEW YORK GIANTS 9-6
Remaining Schedule: Philadelphia
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN:
NEW ORLEANS 9-6
Remaining Schedule: Carolina
NOTES AND TIE-BREAKERS:
NOTE: *The four NFC division winners will automatically receive at least one home playoff game. The top two division winners will receive a bye week followed by a home playoff game while the other two division winners will host a wild card game. The two non-division winners, who will be the two wild card teams, will play on the road.
For Division Ties:
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games within division
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games
For Wild-Card Ties:
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games within conference
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, min. of four
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