TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Bucs are one of the worst teams in the NFL and one of the luckiest.
That is not a dichotomy. It's life in the NFL, where luck often triumphs over talent.
The Bucs can't stop anybody on defense, have won only once in six games and have an anemic offense that is ranked 30th.
But Tampa Bay is in the NFC South, which has become a sanctuary for wayward teams.
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The NFC South is not just bad. It's horrible, especially on defense.
Three of the NFC South's four teams have given up the most points among the NFL's 32 teams. Tampa Bay leads the way allowing 204 points, Atlanta is second (199), Carolina comes in third (195) and New Orleans 11th.
Tampa Bay has given up the most total yards, Atlanta the third most and Carolina the sixth most. New Orleans is not that far behind, ranking 12th in most yards allowed.
No one in the division has a winning record, and the division champion could finish with an 8-8 record or be under .500. Carolina is currently in first place at 3-3-1.
It's a reason some Bucs were talking playoffs this week despite a wretched 1-5 record bolstered with two losses by a combined 104-31 score.
"We're in it as much as anyone with our record. That's what we're focusing on," Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said. "Again, there's life when you take a little bit of time off, not play a game and end up being in better position than when we started the Sunday. We're in a lot better position now. We're excited about that."
The Bucs often refer back to their 2002 season Super Bowl team for inspiration. But now it might make more sense to refer to the 2010 season.
The Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record and got home field in the first round because they were division champs. They beat defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans (a wild card team at 11-5) in the first round of the playoffs, causing cries to change the playoff format.
This scenario is a bonanza of sorts for Smith and a team that has lacked passion. He can create hope with playoff talk and justify going back to quarterback Josh McCown, who is returning to health after missing three games with an injured thumb.
The plea among many Bucs fans is to allow second-year quarterback Mike Glennon to start and see what he has now that the season is lost.
But Smith, who personally brought in McCown, can argue the season is not lost and on Wednesday would not name a starter for the Bucs' game Sunday against Minnesota at Raymond James Stadium.
It also affords him the opportunity to force opponents to prepare for two quarterbacks. "We'll see how the week goes. As soon as we feel like he's fully ready to play, he'll have a role with us," Smith said. "I don't see it that way (having a quarterback controversy) at all. We have two quarterbacks. You might say that. ... I don't say that at all. Guys know where they stand (with) the rotation that we have."
The Bucs' de facto offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, who has been calling plays with offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford lost for the season due to health problems, also side-stepped the quarterback situation and perception by many that Glennon has outplayed McCown.
"The key is perception, that's the number one word used in that," Arroyo said. "There is not a quarterback controversy that's going to be created here. We've got two good quarterbacks who I am really excited to have in our room ,and whoever goes out there is going give us a chance to win. They've both done good things."