NFL Playoffs: Here's the one crazy way the Buccaneers can still get in

When the Cowboys kick off against the Lions on Monday night, fans in Dallas won't be the only ones cheering for the Cowboys. So will everyone in Tampa.

Although there's not much drama left in the NFL's playoff races, don't tell that to the Buccaneers, who need eight things to happen over the next six days if they're going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The first thing that needs to happen is a Cowboys win over the Lions. If Detroit pulls off the upset, then the Lions will clinch a playoff spot and eliminate the Bucs.

Let's say that doesn't happen though. If the Cowboys beat the Lions on Monday, here's a look at the other seven things that will have to fall Tampa's way in Week 17.


If I'm a Bucs fan sitting at home and scoreboard watching this weekend, I'd actually feel pretty good about my team's chances during the 1 p.m. games on Jan. 1.

The Cowboys, Titans and Colts all winning actually seems doable. If that happens, and the Bucs beat the Panthers, then Tampa's playoff hopes will still be alive heading into the 4:25 p.m. ET games.

At that point, it'd probably be safe to put Tampa' playoff chances on life support. For the Bucs to stay alive after the 4:25 p.m. games, the 49ers would have to beat the Seahawks (ha ha) and the Giants would have to TIE the Redskins. That's not a typo. If the Redskins-Giants game ends any result that's not a tie, then the Bucs will be eliminated from playoff contention. Buccaneers fans are going to have to sit through four quarters of that game hoping for a tie.

If somehow, that miracle happens, then Tampa would just need the Lions to beat the Packers on Sunday night.

If all that happens, then the Packers (9-7), Buccaneers (9-7) and Redskins (8-6-2) would all be in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot. At that point, the Redskins would be out due to the conference record tiebreaker. After that, the Bucs would get the last spot thanks to the strength of victory tiebreaker.

Just in case you're wondering, that's how an AFC game can alter the NFC playoff race. For instance, the Bucs beat the Chiefs earlier this season, so they needed a Chiefs win on Christmas to help their strength of victory.

The Bucs need the Jaguars and Texans to lose in order to hurt the Packers' strength of victory. Losses by the Lions (to Dallas) and Eagles (to Dallas) would also hurt the Packers' strength of victory.

If the Bucs pull off this miracle, the happiest guy in the country will probably be the bettor in Vegas who laid down $9,000 on Tampa to win the Super Bowl before the season started.

If the Giants and Redskins don't tie on Sunday (or if any of the seven other things doesn't happen), that guy will officially be out a giant chunk of change. The moral of the story here is never bet $9,000 on the Bucs to win the Super Bowl.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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