After 12 grueling games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finally hit their bye-week just before the start of the final quarter of the 2020 regular season. Sitting at 7-5 and second in the NFC South, the Bucs have either been a nice surprise, relative to last year, or a colossal disappointment given the expectations heading into the season. As is the case with many things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
43-year-old quarterback, Tom Brady, was brought in to help the Bucs return to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade and, despite the ups-and-downs, has all but done that. On the season, Brady has thrown for 3,300 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He is on pace for 4,400 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in his 21st season.
With just four games remaining and the Saints at 9-2, the division is likely out of reach barring a winless stretch for New Orleans. However, the Bucs are still in control of their own destiny when it comes to clinching a playoff spot. The easiest way, of course, is to win their final four games.
Buccaneers Remaining Schedule:
- Week 14: vs Vikings (5-6)
- Week 15: @ Falcons (4-7)
- Week 16: @ Lions (4-7)
- Week 17: vs. Falcons (4-7)
Although the Bucs SHOULD win these games, the losing records can be deceiving. Coming out of the bye week, Tampa faces the Vikings who, despite starting 1-5, have won 4-of-5 to jump right back into the playoff race. Then, they have the first of two games against their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons. And, much like the Vikings, the Falcons got off to an abysmal start to the season (0-5) but have won 4-of-6 and despite likely being out of the NFC playoff, they could play spoiler to the Bucs who are very much alive and well in the playoff hunt.
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If the playoffs were to start today, the Bucs would occupy the sixth seed and head to Lambeau Field for a rematch with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Perhaps their most impressive win of the season, Tom Brady and Bucs beat the Packers 38-10, however, Tampa fans shouldn’t be clamoring for a rematch with the Pack.
The Cardinals bring up the rear of the NFC with the Vikings, the Bucs Week 14 opponent, just outside of the playoff picture. The Buccaneers could put some separation between themselves and their biggest threat immediately coming out the bye with a win over Minnesota. In addition to the Vikings, both the 49ers and Bears are also 5-6 and could be fighting it out with the Cardinals for the final playoff spot. With the Rams at just 7-4, the Bucs could move up as far as the fifth seed, again, assuming the Saints have the NFC South all but locked up.