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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Playoffs? For Bucs, how many wins will it take?



You might think Sunday's loss to Atlanta put a damper on the Bucs' expectations for themselves. If so, you'd be very wrong.

Asked about the team's long-term goals and whether they think reaching the playoffs is still a reachable goal, running back Cadillac Williams didn't waver.

"We’re 5-3. We’re in the thick of things," Williams said. "We’re saying it’s a race to 10 (wins). We feel like a 10-win season would get you in the playoffs. It’s something that’s definitely understood (as) our goal. We want to win 10 games, get in the playoffs and let’s see what happens. Once you start playoff ball, anything can happen from there."

So, now that we're at the halfway point, perhaps it's time to take a look at what it will take to get to the postseason. It's impossible to predict an exact number, especially given the unpredictable nature of this season. But let's try to size things up anyway.

In the NFC, just two teams have fewer losses than the Bucs -- the Falcons and Giants, both 6-2. Unless the Bucs manage to win the NFC South, they'll be competing for one of two wildcard spots. In that scenario, their chief competition would be teams that are runners-up in the NFC East and NFC North. The Giants and Eagles could go down to the wire in the East, though the Giants are a game ahead currently. The Packers are favored to win the North, but the Bears are sitting a half game back at 5-3. And that's to say nothing of the Saints, who, at 6-3, are still in position to win the NFC South or, at least grab a wildcard with quite a few wins.

So, the more you think about it, with six other NFC teams currently having at least as many wins as the Bucs, the Bucs might want to amend their mantra and make it a race to 11. A possible a majority of the teams with which the Bucs are competing could go 5-3 or better in the second half, which would give them 10 or 11 wins. Then it becomes a matter of tiebreakers and mathematics if the Bucs actually get to 10 victories.

The good news is that the Bucs will be playing a few of the teams they're battling for playoff spots. They have games remaining against the Falcons, Saints and Seahawks. And the Bucs beat the Rams (4-4) head to head, just in case that becomes a factor later. That gives them a chance to control their own fate to some extent.

There are a lot of ifs and maybes in all of this, but here's what you should take away from it all: The playoffs are within reach, but it's going to take one heck of an effort -- and possibly, a little help -- for the Bucs to get there. If nothing else, the second half of the season is going to be a thrill.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 1:36pm]


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