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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Saints make Bucs' path to playoffs more difficult



As you might already know, the Bucs' playoff scenarios got tougher with the Saints' win over Atlanta Monday night.

With the 17-14 New Orleans victory, the Saints locked up the fourth of six NFC playoff berths. A fifth will go to the NFC West winner, which will be determined on Sunday.

That leaves the Bucs, Packers and Giants to fight it out for the lone remaining wild card spot that's up for grabs, with the Bucs' odds being, perhaps, the longest.

The New Orleans win means the Bucs need to not only beat the Saints in the Superdome on Sunday, but they must have losses by the Packers (vs. the Bears) and Giants (vs. the Redskins) to allow the Bucs to qualify for the postseason. That scenario would eliminate the other teams and allow the Bucs to advance.

The Bucs could also qualify via a tie with the Saints and losses by the Giants and Packers.

What remains to be seen is whether the Saints go for broke and play all their starters for the duration of Sunday's game. Unless the Falcons lose to the 2-13 Panthers, the Saints are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC. The games will be played simultaneously, so it's unlikely the Saints would rest anyone unless the Falcons game got well out of hand early.

Had the Falcons beaten the Saints on Monday, the Bucs would have needed a win vs. the Saints coupled with a loss by either the Giants or Packers.

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:17pm]


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