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How Many Wins Will the Panthers Need to Make the Playoffs? A Historical Analysis


It is an exciting time to be a Carolina Panthers fan. With the kickoff to the regular season less than a week away, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the team and players. Many of our fans are hopeful that the Panthers can make the playoffs for the first time in four years this season. Most fans and analysts are predicting the Panthers record to range from 7-9 at worst, to 13-3 at best. The consensus among most seems to be a record of 8-8 or 9-7. But are 8 or 9 wins enough to make the playoffs?

Because the landscape of the NFL changes every season, there is no concrete answer for this. However, we can look at the past to get a clearer understanding. To help answer this question, I first averaged the number of wins the NFC wild card teams have had in the last ten years; I then averaged the number of wins the NFC South division winner had in the last ten years. Hopefully you will now have a slightly better idea of how many wins the Panthers will need if they want to win the division, and how many wins they will need if they wish to sneak in as a wild card team.

We’ll begin with the wild card teams in the NFC.


Year

Wild Card Teams

Number of Wins

2002

Giants, Falcons

10, 9

2003

Cowboys, Seahawks

10, 10

2004

Vikings, Rams

8, 8

2005

Redskins, Panthers

10, 11

2006

Cowboys, Giants

9, 8

2007

Giants, Redskins

10, 9

2008

Eagles, Falcons

9, 11

2009

Eagles, Packers

11, 11

2010

Packers, Saints

10, 11

2011

Lions, Falcons

10, 10

Average Number of Wins NFC Wild Card Teams Had:

9.75

Let’s zoom into the NFC South.

Year

NFC South Winner

Number of Wins

2002

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

12

2003

Carolina Panthers

11

2004

Atlanta Falcons

11

2005

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

11

2006

New Orleans Saints

10

2007

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

9

2008

Carolina Panthers

12

2009

New Orleans Saints

13

2010

Atlanta Falcons

13

2011

New Orleans Saints

13

Average Number of Wins NFC South Winner Had:

11.5

What can we conclude from this? Well, in the NFC over the last ten years, the wild card team had an average of 9.75 wins. In the NFC South, over that same time frame, the division winners have averaged 11.5 wins.

What I find interesting is that the last time a team with eight wins managed to make the playoffs in the NFC as a wild card was in 2006, and with nine wins, it was in 2008. In the last three years in the NFC, wild card teams have needed at least ten wins. In the NFC South, the division winner in the last four years has averaged a staggering 12.75 wins, and the last three division winners have had 13 wins.

I hope you all have a better understanding now of just how hard it will be for the Panthers to make the playoffs this year, whether it be as a wild card team or as the division winner. Nonetheless, I have my faith in the team and coaching staff and am looking forward to another exciting year.

Thanks for reading!

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