Ten of the 16 games this week have playoff implications, the Saints-Bucs being one of them. The Saints' playoff seeding will be determined by its outcome. For the Bucs, the only thing to be determined is their seeding in the first round of next April's draft.
As the second-year coach of one of this year's most disappointing teams, Dirk Koetter could find himself as the third of the last four Tampa Bay head coaches fired after just two seasons. He wouldn't be the first coach to be victimized by winning too quickly. A 9 and 7 record in his rookie season encouraged lofty expectations - too lofty - making a 4 and 12 record with a loss to the Saints sunday that much more painful
Another loss would end his season and maybe his brief head-coaching career on a six-game losing streak. But recently the Bucs have played competitive - though winless - football. Their last four losses have come in overtime at Green Bay and by three points each against the Lions, Falcons and Panthers.
Losing to their other NFC South rival in the Saints would make them winless in the NFC South for the season. But their performances in their last two games against playoff contenders in Carolina and Atlanta certainly warrant the Saints' attention. The NFC South title is theirs for the taking by the Saints in victory. The NFC South basement is assured for the enduring by the Bucs in victory or yet another defeat.
For the Bucs it'll be another time to "wait till next year." For the Saints it's another time to "can't wait for next year," and their latest playoff run that begins the first weekend of January.