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

The Buccaneers face the Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view during the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 20, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sunday update: The Bucs beat the Cardinals 19-16 in overtime. Tampa Bay improved to 7-8 and retains their first place lead in the NFC South. They can clinch the division in Week 17 if they beat the Panthers. If they lose to the Panthers, Carolina would take over first place heading into Week 18.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16, and the Bucs have a lot on the line in this matchup. The Bucs are a 7.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook against a Cardinals squad that is playing out the string after playoff elimination last week. Arizona will be starting Trace McSorley due to Colt McCoy suffering a concussion last week.

Bucs playoff picture

Tampa Bay can’t clinch anything this week, but they can give themselves some breathing room with a win. The Bucs are 6-8 and lead the Panthers, Saints, and Falcons all by one game. With games remaining vs. Carolina and on the road against Atlanta, the NFC South race is very much in the air.

If the Bucs win, they head into a critical final two-game stretch at least a game up on everybody. If the Bucs lose, they could maintain their one-game lead or drop into a tie with one or more of their division-mates. The Panthers host the Lions, the Falcons face the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Saints face the Browns in Cleveland.

Tiebreaker implications

This would implicate conference record and common games tiebreakers, but none of that will likely matter if there are any ties for first place in the NFC South. Tampa has season sweeps of Atlanta and New Orleans, while Carolina would get a season sweep if they beat Tampa in Week 17.