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How can Buccaneers clinch a playoff spot in Week 18?

We discuss the scenarios that could see the Buccaneers clinching a playoff spot in Week 18.

Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Update: Tampa Bay shut out the Carolina Panthers 9-0 on Sunday. The Bucs have officially clinched the NFC South title and will host either the Dallas Cowboys or the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round next weekend.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 18. The Buccaneers have an easy path to the playoffs. They need to win in Week 18, and they will win the NFC South division title and be the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs. If they lose, let’s look at any other ways that they could get into the playoffs.

Buccaneers playoff clinching scenarios - Week 18

  • TB win over CAR
  • TB tie + NO loss/tie
  • TB tie + SEA loss + GB loss/tie

Tampa Bay was expected to be rebuilding this season, and now they are in a prime position to make the playoffs. All they have to do is beat the worst team in the league on the road. These teams matched up in Week 13, and the Bucs picked up the 21-18 win at home. Carolina has nothing to play for other than pride, so that makes them dangerous in this trap game. Still, Tampa Bay should pick up a win and avoid the trap game.

If the Bucs lose to the Panthers, there isn’t a way for them to make the playoffs. They would have to tie at worst and then would be waiting on the result of the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons as well as the Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears.