Twelve shopping days before Christmas, the Bucs (9-3) can present their fan base its first division title in 14 years, though they’ll need some help wrapping it up.
A win at home Sunday against the Bills, combined with a Falcons road win (or tie) against the Panthers and a Jets win (or tie) at home against the Saints, clinches the NFC South for Tampa Bay. The Bucs would be assured of at least one home playoff contest as a result.
The Falcons, Panthers and Saints all enter Week 14 with 5-7 records. A win against the Bills means the Bucs could finish the 17-game regular season no worse than 10-7. Losses by the Panthers and Saints mean neither could finish better than 9-8 (or 9-7-1 if both tie).
If Atlanta wins Sunday, it conceivably still could finish 10-7 but would lose the divisional tie-breaker to the Bucs, who defeated the Falcons in both regular season meetings.
Currently, the Bucs own the No. 3 playoff seed in the NFC. The Packers also are at 9-3 but currently own the No. 2 seed because of a better conference win percentage. The Cardinals (10-2) own the top seed, which comes with a first-round playoff bye.
• • •
Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.