Sunday, December 14, 2008

TBSB Buccaneers NFC Playoff Scenario Madness - Week 16

By JC De La Torre

Current NFC Playoff Standings

Seed Team Record (conf rec) Remaining Games

1. NY Giants 11-3 (8-2) Car, @Min
2. Carolina 11-3 (7-3) @NYGiants, @NO
3. Minnesota 9-5 (7-3) Atl, NYGiants
4.Arizona 8-6 (6-5) @NE, Seattle
5.Dallas 9-5 (7-4) BAL, @Phi
6.Tampa Bay 9-5 (8-4) SD, Oak
Atlanta 9-5 (6-4) @Min, St. Louis
Philadelphia 7-5-1 (6-4) Clev, @WAS, DAL
Chicago 8-6 (6-5) GB, @Hou
Washington 7-7 (6-4) Phil, @San Fran
New Orleans 7-7 (4-6) @DET, Carolina
Seattle 3-11 (3-8) NYJets, @Ari
St. Louis 2-12 (2-8) SF, @Atl

The following is the a deep dive breakdown of playoff scenarios for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFC for Week 16. You'll only find this detailed of a breakdown here at the JC De La Torre's Tampa Bay Sports Blog, we'll update it each week as the Bucs progress through the final quarter of their schedule. BTW, Yahoo has put together this awesome Playoff Scenario Generator that helps you put everything in perspective

It was an extremely rough week for the Bucs' playoff hopes, not only did Carolina pull away from the rest of the pack in the NFC South, the Bucs are now in a dog fight with the team they lost a gut-wrenching heartbreaker in overtime to yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons, for the final playoff spot. When the season comes to a close it may be a victory by the 3-11 Seattle Seahawks over the 2-12 St. Louis Rams that proves to be the difference in the Bucs making or missing the playoffs. The Bucs are currently the 6th and final seed in the NFC...barely, but despite the loss to Atlanta, the Bucs do have some control of their own destiny. If they win both their final games, they should take the final playoff spot...we think...if the Rams lose out...and the Cowboys stay ahead of the Eagles....oh boy...actually, it is a lot clearer than that. The Bucs do control their own destiny - if they win their last two games, they are in the playoffs.

Here's where we stand going into Week 16 -


New York has clinched the NFC East

Arizona has clinched the NFC West

This Week’s Clinching Scenarios

The winner of the Carolina-NY Giants game Sunday night will clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC.

If Carolina wins, they clinch the NFC South title.

Minnesota can clinch the NFC North with a victory over Atlanta and a loss by Chicago to Green Bay.

Dallas can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over Baltimore and a loss by Tampa Bay or Atlanta AND Philadelphia

Atlanta can clinch a playoff spot with victory over Minnesota and a loss by Tampa Bay AND Philadelphia OR Dallas.

Bucs Scenarios

The Bucs can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over San Diego and a loss by Atlanta AND Philadelphia (assuming the Eagles defeat Cleveland tonight) OR Dallas loss to Baltimore.

Future Cast – Buccaneers

If the Bucs Win Out –

The division appears to be out of reach, but if the Panthers lose their final two games at New York and at New Orleans, the Bucs can mathematically still win the NFC South. Thanks to Seattle's victory over St. Louis and Dallas staying ahead of Philadelphia, the Buccaneers would win a three-way tie between the Bucs, Panthers and Falcons. The Bucs would get the Panthers on conference record, while the Bucs and Falcons will go down to the strength of schedule tie-breaker, which the Buccaneers would win.

Here's the breakdown of the Atlanta-Tampa Bay tie-breaker scenario -

Bucs/Falcons tie-breakers

1. Head-to-Head – Even (1-1)

2. Division record – Even - Tampa Bay 3-3, Atlanta 3-3

3. Common Games – Even - New Orleans, Carolina, Green Bay, Denver, Kansas City, MinnesotaDetroit, San Diego,Chicago, Oakland (assuming both win out) – Tampa Bay 9-3, Atlanta 9-3

4. Conference Record (Assuming both win out) – Even - Tampa Bay 8-4, Atlanta 8-4

5. Strength of Victory – Currently Bucs lead - Tampa Bay 54-72 .428, Atlanta 51-75 .404, if both teams win out, they will be tied 62-94.

6. Strength of Schedule – Currently Bucs lead – Tampa Bay 106-118 .473, Atlanta 104-118-1 .466 – As long as Dallas has a better record than Philadelphia, the Bucs will win this tie-breaker

So basically, this fluid strength of victory flipped for the Bucs this week with Seattle's victory over St. Louis, if both the Bucs and Falcons win out, their strength of victory will be tied, forcing them to the sixth tie-breaker, which favors Tampa Bay. If Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta all win out, Dallas is the 5 seed, Tampa Bay the 6 and Atlanta's home for christmas.
If the Bucs lose to either San Diego or Oakland -

The Bucs are eliminated from the division race. For the Bucs to be able to make the playoffs, Atlanta must lose to Minnesota and Philadelphia (assuming they win tonight), must lose one of their remaining two games. If Atlanta defeats Minnesota, they will own the advantage in common opponents as Bucs would fall to 8-4.

If the Bucs lose out -

The Bucs are out of the playoffs.

Earliest the Bucs can Clinch a playoff spot

Week 16 - The Bucs can clinch a playoff spot with a victory over San Diego and a loss by Atlanta AND Philadelphia (assuming the Eagles defeat Cleveland tonight).

Earliest the Bucs can clinch the NFC South -

Week 17 - The Bucs would need to win out and Carolina would need to lose out.

Week 16 - Who to Root For -

Bucs to beat San Diego - if the Bucs lose this game, their chances for the post-season decrease dramatically. The final two games are MUST WINS.

Baltimore to defeat Dallas - Drops Dallas to 6 losses on the season and with a Bucs victory over San Diego would allow Tampa Bay to control their own destiny.

San Francisco over St. Louis - Need to keep the Rams down...or strength of victory could flip yet again.

Seattle over the NY Jets - Need to keep the Seahawks up...see above

Minnesota to defeat Atlanta - Would break the tie with the Falcons if the Bucs win.

Washington to defeat Philadelphia - This would pretty much eliminate the Eagles from contention.

NY Giants to defeat Carolina - It would keep the NFC South in play for the Bucs if they win.

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