The Carolina Panthers may need an MVP-type performance from Cam Newton on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to secure home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Panthers had the No. 1 scoring offense in the league entering last weekend after putting up at least 27 points in 12 straight games. Newton said Thursday he’s anxious to get back on the field against the Buccaneers, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
The Carolina Panthers are looking to put aside the missed opportunity of an unbeaten season and refocus on capturing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. If the Panthers (14-1) beat or tie Tampa Bay on Sunday, they’ll wrap up the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history. Defensive end Jared Allen said the Panthers have put the Atlanta loss behind them.
While Jim Caldwell was in no mood to discuss his future with the Detroit Lions this week, Calvin Johnson made his feelings clear. Megatron wants his coach to stay. The Lions visit the Chicago Bears in a game that will determine last place in the NFC North, and just might be the end for a coach who one year ago led this franchise to a rare playoff appearance.
We’ve seen a few other Week 17s that have been more wide open, as far as playoff scenarios go. This season, most of the playoff spots are spoken for, and mostly we’re just left to wonder about is seeding. [ Yahoo Daily Fantasy: $10 could win you $20K in our $200K contest for Week 17 ] But, as usual, there is still plenty on the line in the final week of the NFL season. Not just in terms of playoff seeding and spots, but individual awards and accomplishments as well. So a lot will be settled in the 16 games on Sunday: The NFC North There is one game that directly impacts a division title or playoff berth for both teams in Week 17, and it’s the Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers. The NFL could have done worse for the flexed game on “Sunday Night Football” than two old rivals battling with a division crown on the line. It’s simple: The winner gets the North title. The loser is still in the playoffs, however, as a wild card. The Packers have won the last four NFC North titles. The Vikings haven’t won it since 2009. It would be a great accomplishment for Mike Zimmer’s crew to win the division, and of course get the home game that comes with it. The Packers simply need to get back on track. Both teams will go to the playoffs no matter what, but this game is still the most meaningful of the 16 on Sunday. The other two division titles
Another rushing title is within the grasp of Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. Aaron Rodgers has one more shot to tune up the sluggish Green Bay offense. This is all overshadowed, naturally, by a bigger priority for both teams: The winner claims the NFC North title and the right to host a home playoff game the following weekend.