After potential New Orleans win, Bucs could be left hanging
If the Bucs manage to pull the upset and win at New Orleans on Sunday, expect the postgame celebration to be somewhat measured.
That's because the team would still not know its postseason fate, not until the 4:15 p.m. games involving the Packers and Giants conclude. The Bucs kickoff at 1 p.m. at the Superdome, but the keys to their playoff hopes rest in the Bears-Packers and Giants-Redskins. Both the Packers and Giants must lose for the Bucs to qualify for the playoffs (provided the Bucs win or tie versus the Saints).
And the schedule didn't work in the Bucs' favor in another regard. Because their game kicks off at the same time as the Panthers-Falcons -- the outcome of which greatly affects the Saints' playoff seeding -- the Saints are likely to proceed with their full complement of starters. If the Falcons game would have been complete before the Bucs and Saints kicked off, the Saints would have known the result and might play accordingly. If the Falcons win, the Saints will be locked into the fifth seed in the NFC and would have nothing to play for.
As things stand now, the Saints likely would go all out at least until the Falcons have their game safely in hand as they have a chance to reach as high as the No. 1 seed. That means the Bucs are probably going to get all they can handle from Drew Brees and company.