NFL playoff picture: What does Panthers-Bucs mean for NFC playoff standings

NFL playoff picture: What does Panthers-Bucs mean for NFC playoff standings

The NFC South has been a disaster this season, and as the division heads into Week 17, there’s always the possibility of a team claiming the division title with a 7-10 record. We’re more likely to see an 8-9 or 9-8 champion, but we can dream, can’t we?

The split could be finalized on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Carolina Panthers. The game kicks off at Raymond James Stadium at 1 p.m. ET and the Bucs are field-goal favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Photo from the NFC South playoffs

The Bucs are 7-8 and sit in first place in the division. The Panthers are 6-9 and tied with the Saints for second in the division. Carolina won Game 1 against New Orleans and thus holds the head-to-head tiebreaker until they meet in Week 18.

If the Bucs won this game, they would clinch the division title and the Panthers would be eliminated from the playoffs. If the Panthers win, they’ll move to a first-time tie with Tampa and would have the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep. In this last scenario, the Week 18 scenario would be for the Panthers to win the division with a win or a loss by the Bucs and for the Bucs to win the division with a win and a loss by the Panthers.

Wildcard playoff photo

There is still a world in which either the Bucs or the Panthers win the NFC South and the other team claims the final wild card spot. The Panthers scenario involves ties, which is highly unlikely. The Bucs’ scenarios would involve many teams losing in Weeks 17 and 18, which you can read about on the unofficial NFL Playoff Scenarios website.

Implications for the tiebreaker

The head-to-head tiebreaker and division record tiebreakers are on the line.

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