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Panthers Have Uphill Battle For Playoff Spot In NFC

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By Danny Cox

Anyone outside of the Carolinas that tells you they expected the Panthers to be in second place in the NFC South come mid-November is probably lying. Here, the NFL is heading into week 11 and the Panthers are 6-3 and riding a five-game winning streak as they prepare to face a tough road toward the playoffs.

If the playoffs were to start today, the Panthers would be the number five seed as they hold the tiebreaker over the San Francisco 49ers. In order to stay in the playoffs, Carolina has got to focus on the games ahead of them because they are not going to be easy.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 10:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers streches during a timeout of their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers streches during a timeout (Credit, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Coming up immediately is a home game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

It’s true that the Pats aren’t playing nearly as well as they have in past years, but they’re still a dangerous team no matter what. The Panthers are going to have to play better than they did against the 49ers if they aim to hang with the high-powered offense of the Patriots.

A win is not out of the question, but the offense of the Panthers has got to show up and help the defense.

After the Pats, the Panthers travel to Miami to face the reeling Dolphins and then return home to battle it out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Easier games as far as records and play go, but both teams have had their moments this season, and Tampa Bay, just getting their first win of the season Monday night, are looking to be spoilers.

After that, the Panthers travel to New Orleans to face the Saints who have lost two winnable games this season, but are better than anyone in the division as of now. It will not be easy to keep up with the Saints and even harder to do it in the confines of the Superdome.

Carolina gets a break in Week 15 as they face off with the New York Jets. Well, they won’t have to battle the same kind of firepower that the Patriots and Saints have, but the Jets are no easy win either. They’ve pulled out some big victories this year and are an up-and-down team.

Week 16 will see the Saints head to Carolina in a game that could possibly determine the winner of the NFC South. New Orleans isn’t as good on the road as they are at home, so that could very well be to Carolina’s advantage.

Finishing up the season will be a road game against the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina did away with them easily in Week 9, but the Falcons are going to be desperate and playing for pride by that point.

The playoffs are not out of reach by any stretch of the imagination for the Carolina Panthers, but there are three teams immediately behind them with 5-4 records and Dallas is sitting at 5-5. The Panthers are going to have to play hard and fight for as many wins as possible because it may very well take four or maybe five more victories to secure a playoff spot.

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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