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NFL Playoff Scenarios: Falcons, Saints, And Bucs Can Make The Playoffs Together

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can go to the playoffs along with the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, and it's actually a pretty straightforward scenario. First, the Green Bay Packers need to lose to either the New York Giants in week 16 or the Chicago Bears in week 17. Not at all out of the question.

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Then in week 16 the Bucs must beat the Seattle Seahawks. So far so good -- a very reasonable outcome. If we want the Saints to go too, we'd also need them to beat the Falcons here. None of us want that, but we're trying to load the playoffs with NFC South teams here, for science.

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And in week 17 the Bucs must beat the Saints. I don't see any way the Bucs are getting past the Saints in New Orleans. The Saints themselves could be playing for home field. It's a shame the Bucs could come so close and fall short while an NFC West team gets to attend.

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And no, the Carolina Panthers cannot make the playoffs unless nine NFC teams decline an invitation.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.