Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here's who to root for this week, Bucs fans; NFL Week 15 playoff chase

Bucs fans haven't had real incentive to watch the out-of-town scoreboard this late in the year in a long time. Here's a guide to who Bucs fans should root for this week to maximize their team's playoff chances:

Lions at Giants: Winner is all but in playoffs. Who's easier to catch as loser of this game? Lions, who finish at Cowboys and vs. Packers. Could easily lose three straight, especially with Matthew Stafford having finger injury, so … Go Saints.

Packers at Bears: A Bears win, however unlikely, helps take away Packers as wild-card threat to Bucs. If Tampa Bay doesn't beat Dallas, it could lose tiebreaker to Packers on "strength of victory," so … Go Bears.

Colts at Vikings: Minnesota is fading fast, losing six of eight, so a loss hits them hard. Their weak conference record (4-6) makes them less of a threat to Bucs, but even still … Go Colts.

49ers at Falcons: They're 14-point underdogs, but 49ers could really help Bucs by taking out Atlanta, who is still missing WR Julio Jones. Regardless how this goes, Bucs only need one more win than Falcons in final two weeks to win NFC South, but … Go 49ers.

Panthers at Redskins (Monday): Carolina can really help Bucs in next couple of weeks: beat Washington here, then beat Atlanta in Panthers' home finale the following week. Of note: If Bucs win next two and Redskins lose either of next two, Bucs clinch wild card on Christmas Eve. What better gift, so … Go Panthers.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Playoff chase

NFC

Seed/team/div. Rec

1. Cowboys-E-z 11-2

2. Lions-N 9-4

3. Seahawks-W-y 9-4-1

4. Falcons-S 8-5

Wild card

5. Giants 9-4

6. Bucs 8-5

In the hunt

7. Redskins 7-5-1

8. Vikings 7-6

9. Packers 7-6

Remaining schedules

Cowboys: Bucs, Lions, at Eagles

Lions: at Giants, at Cowboys, Packers

Seahawks: Cardinals, at 49ers

Falcons: 49ers, at Panthers, Saints

Giants: Lions, at Eagles, at Redskins

Bucs: at Cowboys, at Saints, Panthers

Redskins: Panthers, at Bears, Giants

Vikings: Colts, at Packers, Bears

Packers: at Bears, Vikings, at Lions

AFC

Seed/team/div Rec

1. Patriots-E 11-2

2. Chiefs-W 10-3

3. Steelers-N 8-5

4. Texans-S 7-6

Wild card

5. Raiders 10-3

6. Dolphins 9-5

In the hunt

7. Broncos 8-5

8. Ravens 7-6

9. Titans 7-6

10. Colts 6-7

11. Bills 6-7

z-clinched playoff berth; y-clinched division

Remaining schedules

Patriots: at Broncos, Jets, at Dolphins

Chiefs: Titans, Broncos, at Chargers

Steelers: at Bengals, Ravens, Browns

Texans: Jaguars, Bengals, at Titans

Raiders: at Chargers, Colts, at Broncos

Dolphins: at Bills, Patriots

Broncos: Patriots, at Chiefs, Raiders

Ravens: Eagles, at Steelers, at Bengals

Titans: at Chiefs, at Jaguars, Texans

Colts: at Vikings, at Raiders, Jaguars

Bills: Browns, Dolphins, at Jets

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