Here’s What Needs to Happen for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers to Clinch a Playoff Spot in Week 14

Tom Brady finds himself in familiar territory on the eve of Week 14. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot say the same.

Brady and the Buccaneers, who at 9-3 have already clinched a winning season, are inching ever closer to a second straight postseason berth. That is nothing new for Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion who reached the playoffs every year from 2009-20. Conversely, the Buccaneers needed the three-time NFL MVP help to end a 13-year postseason drought last year.

Luckily for Brady and teammates, they can clinch both a playoff berth and the NFC South as early as Sunday, Dec. 12. Here’s exactly what needs to happen.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can clinch the NFC South in Week 14

The Buccaneers entered Week 14 as the only NFC South team with a winning record. In fact, they’re one of only five NFC teams who were over .500 as of publication.

For the Buccaneers to win the NFC South in Week 14, they first need to take care of business against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon. Since Brady is 32-3 against Buffalo and hasn’t lost to them since 2014, history certainly works in Tampa Bay’s favor.

If the Buccaneers win, they need two other games to go their way. First, the woeful New York Jets need to upset or tie Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints. Elsewhere in the 1 p.m. window, the Atlanta Falcons need to pull off a road victory against the Carolina Panthers; a tie would also work.

In short, the Buccaneers need a win and for Carolina and New Orleans to lose or tie. Those three outcomes would give the Buccaneers their first NFC South division crown since 2007.

Brady and the Buccaneers can also clinch a playoff berth without winning the South

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an excellent chance to clinch a second straight NFC South title | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Typically, professional sports teams clinch a postseason berth before winning their division. The Buccaneers have a way to make that happen in Week 14, although it involves a great deal of chaos in the NFC.

First, the Buccaneers need to tie with the Bills. Then, New Orleans and Carolina need to lose; a tie won’t work there. Tampa Bay also needs the Minnesota Vikings to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football. Again, a tie isn’t good enough.

Finally, the Buccaneers need the Washington Football Team and San Francisco 49ers to lose or tie against the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively. That wild weekend would guarantee the Buccaneers a spot among the NFL’s final 14 teams.

Considering everything that needs to happen, the Buccaneers might want to aim for beating the Bills and hoping the Falcons and Jets do their part.

Which other NFL teams can clinch a postseason spot in Week 14?

According to the NFL, no AFC teams can clinch a postseason spot in Week 14. However, two other top NFC teams have an opportunity to cement their playoff status — and luckily for them, the way in is much easier than what Brady and the Buccaneers need. 

If Kyler Murray and the 10-2 Arizona Cardinals defeat the 8-4 Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, they’ll have their first playoff berth since 2015. However, the Cardinals cannot clinch the NFC West in Week 14. Although there are other ways for the Cardinals to clinch a playoff spot on Dec. 13, a win is certainly the easiest.

The Green Bay Packers, though, can clinch the NFC North in Week 14. If the Vikings lose on TNF, the Packers only need a victory against the struggling 4-8 Chicago Bears to win a third straight division title. If the Packers lose, they can still clinch a playoff berth if the Saints lose or tie and the 49ers lose.

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