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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

For Bucs, a number of postseason paths remain



The Bucs’ loss to the Lions on Sunday did little for their NFC playoff hopes, but not all hope is lost.

Tampa Bay (8-6) still has a number of possible scenarios that would result in a playoff appearance, some of which aren’t hard to imagine. But there’s one key difference after Sunday’s loss.

“We took a lot of pride in the fact that we controlled our own destiny,” LB Barrett Ruud said. “And now that we have to look for help, it’s kind of frustrating. (Other playoff contenders) did help us a little bit and we’ll probably thank them on Thursday or Friday. But right now we’re more upset at ourselves.”

So, what now? With the help of extensive research from Scott Smith at, here are some possible scenarios to a wildcard berth, all of which involve the Bucs achieving a 10-6 record.

Perhaps the most plausible path involves the Bucs effectively knocking the Saints out of the postseason. That would require a Saints loss at Atlanta next Monday night, followed by a Bucs victory at New Orleans in the regular-season finale. Also necessary: Wins by the Giants over the Packers and Redskins in their final two games. The Bucs and Saints would have 10-6 records under this scenario, but the Bucs would win the tiebreaker on the basis of their better record in common games.

Another possible path involves the Giants losing their final two games to the Packers and Redskins plus the Packers losing the Bears in their finale. That would make each team 9-7, giving the Bucs a better record and eliminating any need for tiebreakers.

There are a slew of other possible scenarios -- all of which Smith had laid out in great detail -- but there’s one common denominator: In every reasonable scenario, the Bucs need to win their final two games to qualify for the postseason.

That means there can be no margin for error in each of the final two games.

[Last modified: Monday, December 20, 2010 5:15pm]


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