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Little margin for error as Bucs make NFC playoff push

The Bucs have at least accomplished this much: They have played their way into the playoff conversation.

As it relates to doing anything more than that, like actually making the playoffs, that's another story. It will all be decided in the next six weeks, expected to be a frantic but fun fight to the finish in the tight NFC.

And there's the point of this post: The NFC standings are a rather crowded place right now. The Bucs, at 6-4, are joined by five other non-division leaders who have either the same record or are within a game of Tampa Bay.

And that means as the season creeps along and the schedule intensifies for the Bucs, there's little margin for error. If the Bucs don't finish strong, the odds of backing into the playoffs are diminished because of the number of teams fighting for precious spots. In short, they won't all lose.

And complicating matters is the Bucs' tough final stretch. It begins with this Sunday's game against the Falcons, followed by the Broncos (away), Eagles, Saints (away), Rams and Falcons (away).

Time will tell how this ends up. In the meantime, here's what the playoff picture looks like in the NFC.

Division leaders


Giants 6-4


Packers 7-3


Falcons 9-1


49ers 7-2-1

Wildcard contenders

Bears 7-3

Bucs 6-4

Vikings 6-4

Seahawks 6-4

Saints 5-5

Cowboys 5-5