Panthers Secure First Playoff berth Since 2008

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not exactly sure how they clinched but if NFL.com says that with the their 17-13 victory over the Saints the Panthers have clinched well... I'm going to trust them.

Per NFL.com:

5. The victory means that the Panthers officially are in the playoffs. They win the NFC South and get a playoff bye if they win in Atlanta next week. The Saints still haven't even clinched a playoff spot and looked headed for a wild card.

I assume that means that even if they [knock on wood] should lose next week @ Atlanta they would still earn a wild card birth. I know the Cardinals play the 49ers next week so one of those two will lose another game. The Cardinals amazingly went into Seattle needing a win and got it.

Worst case scenario: #6 Seed

Cardinals and Saints win next week, Panthers lose. In this case the 49ers are the odd man out here as the Panthers land the #6 seed while the Saints take the division. I'm assuming the Panthers lose the tiebreaker with the Saints or otherwise they would be calling the Panthers NFC South champ already. The Cardinals would jump the Panthers due to head-to-head victory.

But enough of that.

Most likely Scenario: #2 Seed

All they have to do is beat the 4-10 Falcons on the road in the Georgia Dome. No small feat even against a team as depleted as the Falcons. They would love nothing better than to upset the Panthers and rain on their division crown parade. The thought of a first round bye has to sound very good to a Panthers team that now has a couple key players in Steve Smith and Cam Newton nicked up in this game.

To grab that #2 seed all the Panthers need to do is more of this:

Cam Newton's signature moment gets team in playoffs - NFL.com
6. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis had incredible interceptions for the Panthers. Their ability to pursue in run support and make plays in coverage makes them as versatile as any linebacker duo in the league. Kuechly doesn't have my Defensive Player of the Year vote, but he probably won some support Sunday with an unbelievable performance. He had 24 tackles. 24!

That victory is one to savor for a few days!

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