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NFL playoff picture: What does Saints-Bucs mean for NFC standings

The Saints face the Bucs in Tampa on Sunday Night Football. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of sunset at Raymond James Stadium during a game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Bills on December 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Result: The Saints shutout the Bucs 9-0 to get the win in Tampa. The Bucs will have to wait a week for a playoff bid. The Saints move into the final wild card spot with the win, pending the outcomes of Vikings-Bears and Washington-Eagles.

The NFC South gets the primetime spotlight in Week 15, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC and the Bucs are an 11.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Bucs have a big opportunity this weekend. If they beat or tie the Saints, they clinch the NFC South title. They are four games up on the Saints and Falcons so this is just a formality. Tampa Bay is 10-3 and tied with the Packers and Cardinals at the top of the NFC standings. Green Bay holds the tiebreaker based on conference win percentage. Tampa has the tiebreaker over Arizona based on strength of victory.

Even if the Bucs lose to the Saints, they can clinch a playoff berth with some help. They would clinch a wild card berth with a Vikings loss or tie and a 49ers loss, or a Vikings loss or tie and an Eagles-Washington tie, or a 49ers loss and an Eagles-Washington tie.

The Saints are just fighting to stay alive in the wild card race. They are 6-7 and tied with Washington, the Vikings, Eagles, and Falcons. Washington holds the final wild card berth and the Saints lose tiebreakers based on their head-to-head loss to the Falcons. All five teams are a game up on the Panthers and Seahawks.

Relevant Week 15 matchups

Panthers (5-8) @ Bills (7-6)
Cardinals (10-3) @ Lions (1-11-1)
Cowboys (9-4) @ Giants (4-9)
Falcons (6-7) @ 49ers (7-6)
Packers (10-3) @ Ravens (8-5)
Vikings (6-7) @ Bears (4-9)
Seahawks (5-8) @ Rams (9-4)
Washington (6-7) @ Eagles (6-7)