The Panthers need a lot to happen, but it’s not entirely impossible. Let’s run through the wild list of things they need to have happen heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Panthers win out
This one is obvious. Carolina is 6-8 and can’t afford any more slip-ups. A 8-8 record could do the trick but 7-9 won’t get it done. The Panthers host the Falcons in Week 16 and play the Buccaneers on the road in Week 17. Atlanta would probably love eliminating the Panthers and is an early 3.5-point favorite despite the game being in Charlotte. If Monday’s Panthers team shows up, Carolina can beat anyone.
Tampa Bay loses out
The Buccaneers clearly need to lose their Week 17 game against Carolina (see: above). But the Panthers also need the Bucs to lose in Week 16 at New Orleans. The Saints are struggling, but it’s certainly a winnable game for New Orleans. Tampa winning would mean they finish at worst 9-7, which would put the Bucs too far ahead for the Panthers to catch in the wild-card race.
Green Bay loses out
Same applies for the Packers. They play the Vikings in Week 16 at home and at the Lions in Week 17. If Green Bay wins either of those games, then the worst the Packers can finish is 9-7, which would eliminate the Panthers from the wild-card hunt. This is probably the second biggest obstacle for Carolina — Aaron Rodgers‘ team has won four straight games and is running as hot as anyone. Green Bay can smell the playoffs.
Saints help on two fronts
The Saints remain in the playoff hunt as well, at 6-8. (New Orleans’ playoff run is a little bit simpler: The Saints would win a tiebreaker over the Packers, Vikings and Bucs if all four teams end up 8-8.) Carolina needs them to wine one game, in Week 16 at home against the Bucs, and lose the next game, in Week 17 at the Falcons. Those aren’t two unreasonable outcomes.
Redskins get weird
This is where the Panthers’ playoff scenario becomes hilarious and highly unpredictable. The Panthers beat the Redskins on Monday night as Step 1 of this whole process. Now the Panthers need more help from Washington. At 7-6-1, the Redskins are still in the playoff hunt but saw their playoff odds drop from 70 percent to 26 percent. To make the playoffs, Washington will need to win out. For the Panthers to make it, they need to Washington to win one of its final two games and to … wait for it … tie the other game.
Yes, tie. It would be Washington’s second tie of the season, which would make it the only team since overtime was added to finish with two ties in a season. The Redskins play at the Bears in Week 16 and host the Giants in Week 17.
Weird stuff can still happen, but it’s a full-blown Lloyd Christmas scenario.
The result of it all would be four teams — the Panthers, Packers, Buccaneers and Vikings — tied at 8-8. Tie-breaking procedures, which involve eliminating all but the top team in the division first, would give the edge to the Panthers.
Pretty simple path, really.
This article was syndicated from cbssports