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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs win streak puts them in NFC playoff race



leonardjohnson.jpgLet’s talk playoffs. No, you’re eyes aren’t failing you. Yes, I said playoffs.

The Bucs are in the race. Now that we’re nine games in, this is a legitimate time to begin this conversation. Tampa Bay (5-4) has a real shot at making the postseason, and its performance in the next several weeks will determine whether it’s worthy of a berth.

It won’t be easy with two games against Atlanta, a trip to Denver and a visit to New Orleans looming down the stretch. But now is a good time to size up the Bucs’ situation in the playoff race.

Here's the deal: If the playoffs started today, the Bucs would fall just short of an NFC wildcard berth. The Packers, at 6-3, would grab the first wildcard spot. And currently, the Vikings and Seahawks are tied for the second wildcard spot, both at 6-4.

Then comes the Bucs, the only 5-win team in the NFC. That puts them a half-game out in the wildcard race.

The Bucs are followed by a group of 4-5 teams that have various weaknesses and have been extremely inconsistent: the Saints, Cardinals, Lions and Cowboys.

What can we take away from this? That the Bucs are very much in this and can make a run if they can manage to stay on a roll.

That won’t be easy with the schedule.

But given the confidence with which the Bucs are playing, nothing seems out of reach these days. This does not look like the same team that fell apart in the final minutes against the Giants and Redskins or the one that played scared against the Cowboys. This is a team that makes you think everything is on the table.

And at the very least, we are assured that things will be pretty interesting down the stretch. All any team really wants is a chance to play for something, and with the way things are going, the Bucs just might give themselves that opportunity.

(Photo by Daniel Wallace, Times Staff)

[Last modified: Monday, November 12, 2012 9:54am]


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