Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: 49ers, Seahawks steady at the top - SBNation.com
4. Carolina Panthers
Current Playoff Projection: NFC No. 2 seed (NFC South leader)
They may have gotten a bit of an assist from monsoon-like conditions, but the Panthers did plenty to help their own cause as they shut down the Saints' passing attack and passed their own TCB Test with flying colors. Luke Kuechly would have needed to clone himself to be involved in more defensive plays. Cam Newton was on target when it counted as he shook off sacks and other miscues to connect on deep shots to get the Panthers in position to win at the end. A Week 17 matchup with the woebegone Falcons is all that stands between Carolina and a first-round bye. (Last week: 4)
Actually I didn;t think the rain helped us much at all. We seemed just as affected by it as the Saints. It was fun to watch though.
Looking at the top 4 contenders I do like the Panthers chances though I'm still apprehensive about the offense being able to put up enough points to beat the Seahawks or Broncos.
#1 Seahawks - They have the most complete team in the NFL and the possible addition of Percy Harvin could be the X factor.
#2 Broncos - The defense was suspect before the loss of Von Miller but Peyton Manning can put up as many points as needed. They are clearly the class of the AFC.
#3 49ers - They might have a slightly better defense than the Panthers and a better offensive line but their weak link is the play at QB. Kaepernick is very consistent when the 49ers can;t run the ball, hence the Panthers win at the Stick earlier in the season.
#4 Panthers - We know the Panther defense is one of the best so it really comes down to whether the offense can produce like it did during it's 8 game win streak. If they can get back to ball control offense and makle the most of their red zone opportunities then they have a real chance to go to the Big Dance.