Week 17 could play a pivotal role in the development of the playoff picture. Though the Buccaneers have earned their first playoff appearance in 13 years, this is not a week to take lightly. Some implications will determine the Buccaneers’ fate.
The Five Seed
In what amounts to a week to solidify playoff spots for some, it also determines the Buccaneers’ opponents on their way to reach the Super Bowl. Clinching a playoff birth after beating the Lions was monumental, but the ability to secure the fifth seed will be an added boost. They can accomplish this with a win over the Atlanta Falcons. A loss would put other factors in play that could lead to the Buccaneers facing the Seattle Seahawks instead of the winner of the NFC East.
The insinuation of a loss is a tough pill to swallow, but the team needs to focus on this victory before thinking about the playoffs. The matchup could end up being a classic trap game where a team focuses on the weeks to come and not the current opponent. The Falcons almost pulled off an upset against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 16. Additionally, the Buccaneers started slow against the Falcons in their last matchup.
In that divisional match up, the Buccaneers found themselves down 17-0 at the end of the first half. It wasn’t until 6:19 left in the fourth quarter that the Buccaneers took the lead with the final score of the game to win by a slim margin (31-27). A slow start and other issues could derail the game and set the Buccaneers at 10-6. That record could change things for the Buccaneers.
L.A. Rams vs the Arizona Cardinals
In the final week of the season, the Rams will face the Arizona Cardinals in a pivotal match with each team trying to make the playoffs. As of Monday, the news broke that the Rams will be without Jared Goff. He recently went into surgery for a thumb he dislocated and broke in last week’s game. Though this may be a set back, the Cardinals also have an issue at quarterback. Kyler Murray has a leg injury that will need to be watched this week. The injuries could open things up for backup quarterbacks to dual it out.
The Worst-Case Scenario
In the event the Buccaneers lose and the L.A. Rams win, there becomes a tie for the top two wild card spots. NFL rules state that in the case of a tie the first tiebreaker is head-to-head. In this is a weary position the Buccaneers are bumped to the sixth seed as a result of the loss earlier this year to the Rams.
So what does this mean? This means the road will get tougher. The opponent would then switch from the four seed to the third seed. The Buccaneers would then play the Seahawks instead of the lowly winners of the NFC East. With these implications, week 17 is still very important.
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