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

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

A general view during a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off at Raymond James Stadium on Monday evening to close out Week 13. Both teams are sitting below .500, but the NFC South has been bad enough that all four teams have a shot at winning the division.

The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN and the Bucs are a 3.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bucs playoff picture

The Bucs are 5-6 and currently in first place in the NFC South. The Falcons sit a game back of them but are headed into their bye. That means if the Bucs beat the Saints and then beat the 49ers next week, they could be two full games up by the time the Falcons return from their bye. Of course, if the Bucs lose to the Saints, they’ll drop back down to a half game up and a loss to San Francisco next week could leave them tied with the Falcons atop the division.

Saints playoff picture

The Saints are 4-8 and trending in the wrong direction with three losses in their last four games. And yet, they are only 1.5 games out of first place heading into this matchup. They’ve given the Bucs enough trouble in recent years that it’s entirely possible they spring the road upset. If they get the win, they’ll be tied with the Falcons at a half game out of first place heading into their Week 14 bye.

Tiebreaker implications

Tampa one the first game of this series back in Week 2, so they would lock up the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win on Monday. Beyond that, they would improve to 3-1 in the division, which is the second tiebreaker for division-mates.

The NFC South is going to send its division winner to the playoffs and nobody else, so there’s little reason to worry about the wild card tiebreakers that might be at play.