Carolina’s blueprint for playoff success has been set: Let the sack-happy defense lead the way and hope dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton can add just enough offense.
The Carolina Panthers are faced with yet another critical game on Sunday when they head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. With a win, the Panthers will clinch the NFC South and a 1st round bye in the playoffs, while also guaranteeing the city a home playoff game for the first time in 5 years.
CAROLINA (11-4) at ATLANTA (4-11) Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox OPENING LINE — Panthers by 8
The Atlanta Falcons are finishing the season with 11 players on injured reserve, including two additions this week.
The Carolina Panthers are in the driver’s seat for an NFC South title, first-round bye in the playoffs, and possibly even the number one overall seed making the way for home-field advantage. They still have to get past the Atlanta Falcons though, and that won’t be an easy task with some offensive weapons on the shelf.
Coach Mike Smith says the Atlanta Falcons can’t take much satisfaction from almost rallying against the San Francisco 49ers.
Carolina has been on a roll for almost the entire season, and they’ve been able to stay relatively healthy along the way. With the most important week of the season approaching, some key names are on the shelf when they are needed most.
The Carolina Panthers have already clinched a spot in this year’s playoffs, but they are still playing for so much more. The NFC South is still up for grabs as is a first-round bye, and all that stands in their way is a win over the hapless Atlanta Falcons. That is much easier said than done though.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera says wide receiver Steve Smith is “highly doubtful” for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons with a knee sprain.
With a little help from the St. Louis Rams, the Carolina Panthers now control their own destiny as they head for the playoffs and have a lot of opportunity staring them in the face. If they just do what they know they can do, the Panthers will be sitting pretty.