Thanks to an 11-0 record, the Carolina Panthers is one of two teams that could secure playoff spots this week along with the New England Patriots. There is actually five scenarios that could result in a playoff spot for the Panthers, according to CBS Sports:
- Seattle Seahawks loss or tie + Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss or tie
- Seattle Seahawks loss or tie + Atlanta Falcons loss or tie
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss or tie + Minnesota Vikings loss + Arizona Cardinals loss
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss or tie + Minnesota Vikings loss + Arizona Cardinals tie
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss or tie + Minnesota Vikings tie + Arizona Cardinals loss
The easiest scenario for the Panthers to get in, or the least complicated, would be if the Seahawks were to lose on Sunday. The Seahawks will be welcoming a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has looked rejuvenated, winning their past two games, and has their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, healthy again. The Seahawks will be facing the Steelers at 4:25 on Sunday.
Before the Seahawks play, the Panthers will want to keep their eye on two divisional foes as the Bucs and Falcons are both playing at 1 PM and facing the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings respectively.
The game that is probably more important, from the Panthers perspective, would be the Bucs game. If the Bucs are to lose, it would open up four of the five possible scenarioes. It doesn't really matter which team wins between the Falcons and Vikings because the Panthers can still secure a playoff spot either way.
If Tampa Bay does lose to the Colts, the other important game to watch would be the Cardinals game against the 49ers at 4:05. However, this game will not matter if the Vikings win but that would thenl open up the second scenario for the Panthers to secure a playoff spot.
While this may be confusing, the one thing to take away is that the Panthers have a number of possibilities in securing a playoff spot and could punch their ticket to the playoffs by Sunday night.