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Tiebreakers favor Bucs in NFC South
Posted Dec. 15 at 03:30 AM
Tampa Bay still has a chance to pull out the NFC South title.
The Bucs have a couple of almost tap-in games left – at home against San Diego and Oakland. They have an outstanding chance to win both of those, finishing with an 11-5 record. And that would put the ball in Carolina’s court. The Panthers are currently 11-3, but they have a pair of tough road games left against the Giants and Saints. If they lose both of those, they’ll probably lose the division.
Atlanta is also a factor in this deal. If the Falcons can win at Minnesota, it will also have a chance to finish at 11-5 (it plays St. Louis in the final week of the season).
A look at the NFL’s tie-breaking procedure (in order):
Head to head
All of these teams went 1-1 against each other.
If the Panthers lose at New Orleans in week 17 (and the Saints are 6-1 at home), then every team in the NFC South will have a 3-3 division record.
Doesn’t help. If the Panthers lose at the Giants and the Falcons beat the Rams, then every team in the division will have gone 1-1 in its non-common games (meaning each would be 10-4 in common games).
If Carolina loses its final two, it would finish with an 7-5 record in NFC games, setting it up to potentailly lose against either Tampa Bay or Atlanta (if either of those teams finishes at 11-5, it will be with an 8-4 record in NFC games).
Strength of victory
This is the win-loss record of opponents that a team beat. Not a factor for Carolina, since it would have lost the previous tiebreaker. So only potentially a factor for a tie between Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Right now, the Bucs have the advantage in this tiebreaker – thanks to the Rams giving away a game against Seattle yesterday. Those are the only two opponents the Falcons and Bucs don’t have in common. If these teams both finish 11-5, ten of their wins would be against each other, Carolina, New Orleans, the four teams in the NFC North and the four teams in the AFC West. The Seahawks, with that win, are 3-11, while the Rams are 2-12. So if the Falcons and Bucs both finish at 11-5, the best Atlanta could hope for would be that the Rams beat the 49ers on Saturday and the Seahawks lose their final two – making this a tie.
Of course, there are still plenty of key games at stake. To advance into a complex tiebreaker, the Falcons have to win at Minnesota, which won’t be easy. The Chargers have underachieved all year, but perhaps they can put things all together and make a run at the Bucs on Sunday at Raymond James.
And the Panthers are definitely the frontrunners. They’ve been playing well enough that they could potentially beat the Giants this week. And needing a win, Carolina definitely would be favored at New Orleans in week 17.
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