2021 NFL Playoff Picture, Standings: Buccaneers can clinch NFC South crown vs. Saints on Sunday Night Football


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints are set to face off in a division matchup that has important implications on the NFL playoff picture. With a win or tie over the Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday Night Football, Tampa Bay could clinch the NFC South crown for the first time since 2007. The Buccaneers snapped the second-longest active postseason drought in NFL history last season when Tom Brady led the team to the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons. The Bucs are on pace to make the playoffs for two consecutive seasons for the first time since Tampa Bay advanced to four straight postseasons from 1999-2002. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America. The match-up will also be available via live stream on Peacock.

After defeating the Buffalo Bills in overtime in Week 14 and winning their fourth straight game, the Buccaneers put themselves in strong position for the division title. At 10-3, the Buccaneers occupy the No. 2 seed in the NFC and are undefeated in their previous four primetime matchups this season. Tampa Bay is also a perfect 6-0 at home.

This past weekend against the Bills, Brady recorded his 700th career touchdown pass and broke the NFL’s all-time completions record formerly held by Saints star quarterback Drew Brees. Yet, the Saints have given Brady trouble in his brief time in Tampa Bay. On Sunday night, Brady will look to win his first-regular season game against the Saints in a Bucs uniform.

RELATED: Tom Brady’s NFL records: Super Bowl wins, rings, all-time passing touchdowns ahead of Saints vs Buccaneers divisional match up

Meanwhile the 6-7 Saints are four games behind the Buccaneers in the NFC South and occupy the No. 11 seed in the NFC. Though Tampa Bay has the better overall record, New Orleans has dominated recent matchups between both teams. The Saints have won six straight regular-season games in the series and have come out on top in the NFC South for the past four seasons.

In the previous meeting between the two teams in Week 8, the Saints defeated the Bucs, 36-27, in the Superdome.  Saints starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a knee injury and backup Trevor Siemian led the team to a win. However, the quarterback carousel in the post-Drew Brees era continues to spin in New Orleans. Taysom Hill has assumed starting quarterback responsibilities and he helped lead the Saints to a 30-9 victory over the New York Jets last week.

In addition to the dropped contest from the earlier this season, the Bucs will also look to avenge the loss from the last time these two teams met on Sunday night. When the Saints and Bucs played on Sunday Night Football in the 2020 season, the Buccaneers fell in stunning fashion, 38-3.

NBC News political correspondent Steve Kornacki is back on Football Night in America to trade election result breakdowns for NFL playoff picture scenarios. Kornacki will join the show for the remainder of the regular season and will be a part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Super Bowl LVI from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 13.

RELATED: When do the 2022 NFL playoffs start: Dates, schedule, TV channels, live streams, format

Week 15 Clinching Scenarios for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers could punch their ticket to the playoffs on Sunday night by defeating or tying the Saints to clinch the NFC South division title. Below are the other scenarios in which Tampa Bay can clinch a postseason spot in Week 15 with some help from other teams:

  1. Minnesota loss or tie + San Francisco loss OR
  2. Minnesota loss or tie + Philadelphia-Washington tie OR
  3. San Francisco loss + Philadelphia-Washington tie

RELATED: NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Week 15

Week 15 NFL Picks and Power Rankings

Mike Florio and the team at ProFootballTalk have broken down their picks and power rankings for Week 15. They have Aaron Rodgers and the 10-3 Green Bay Packers at the top of the list. Click here to see where the rest of the league falls as the playoff race tightens.

Current 2021 NFL Playoff picture

2021 AFC Standings

Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

New England Patriots (9-5)

Tennessee Titans (9-5)

Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)

Buffalo Bills (8-6)

On the bubble:

Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

Cleveland Browns (7-6)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)

Miami Dolphins (7-7)

Denver Broncos (7-7)

Las Vegas Raiders (6-7)

2021 NFC Standings

Green Bay Packers (11-3)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

Dallas Cowboys (10-4)

Arizona Cardinals (10-4)

Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

San Francisco 49ers (8-6)

Washington Football Team (6-7)

On the bubble:

Minnesota Vikings (6-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

New Orleans Saints (6-7)

Atlanta Falcons (6-8)

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