Monday, December 30, 2013

Who the Panthers will play in the playoffs -- my odds on the 3 possibilities



We now know a lot more about who the Panthers will play in their first home playoff game in five years, which will be Sunday, Jan.12th, 2014, at 1:05 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.

There are five other teams in the NFC playoff race, and No.2 seed Carolina is only eligible to play three of them (No.3 Philadelphia, No.4 Green Bay and No.5 San Francisco) in the divisional round game. Here are my odds of who is the most likely opponent for Carolina and why:

1) PHILADELPHIA (50 percent). The Eagles are the No.3 NFC playoff seed and host sixth seed New Orleans Saturday at 8:10 p.m. The most likely scenario for Carolina is that the Eagles win this game at home against the Saints (who were 3-5 on the road this year) and come to Charlotte the next week.

If the Eagles win, the result of the Green Bay-San Francisco game DOES NOT MATTER in terms of who the Panthers will play in their Jan.12 game. That's because the Panthers, as the No.2 seed, must play the higher-seeded NFC team left after the first-round games. If the No.3 Eagles win, that has to be Philadelphia.

The Eagles would be a very difficult challenge for Carolina's defense, with their creative, fast offense led by quarterback Nick Foles and running back LeSean McCoy, who led the NFL in rushing this year. Their defense, however, is erratic, as Dallas quarterback Kyle Orton showed Sunday night.

2) SAN FRANCISCO (30 percent). The 49ers travel to play at Green Bay on Sunday, Jan.5th at 4:40 p.m. This game only comes into play for Carolina IF No.6 New Orleans can upset No.3 Philadelphia Saturday night in Philly.

If that happens, the Saints automatically will travel to play No.1 seed Seattle the following weekend, because the Seahawks are guaranteed the lowest remaining seed after the first-round games, and you can't get lower than No.6.

So if the Saints pull that upset, then the winner of the 49ers-Packers game will come to Charlotte. Even though that game is at Green Bay, I believe the 49ers will win it. San Francisco ended the season on a six-game winning streak, made the Super Bowl last year and, at 12-4, had a far better regular-season record and a better defense than the Packers (8-7-1).

3) GREEN BAY (20 percent). Same scenario as No.2 -- New Orleans would have to win first. Then the Packers would need to beat San Francisco. If they could manage that, Aaron Rodgers would come to Charlotte to face the Panther defense. Green Bay, in my mind, would be the best first-round matchup of the three for Carolina -- but at this point no one is easy.

And if the Panthers (12-4) win that Jan.12th game (in which they will wear black jerseys, if you are thinking that far ahead)? They would play in the NFC championship game Sunday, Jan.19th, at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. That game would be at Carolina if Seattle gets upset on Jan.11th, when it hosts its first playoff game. It would be at Seattle if the Seahawks win.

If you are interested in trying to buy some of the approximately 7,000 seats the Panthers will put on sale for the Jan.12 playoff game on Wednesday, follow this link for more information. I expect those tickets will be gone in 5-10 minutes given all the outlets Ticketmaster has, so be ready. But DON'T show up at Bank of America Stadium -- its box office will NOT be open for this 10 a.m. sale on Wednesday.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

With the WEAK offense the Panthers have, they will be out in the first round unless Cam miraculously learns how to throw the ball to the chest of his receivers. Come on man!!!

Daniel said...

Thanks for the great analysis, Scott.

I personally think the Panthers are most likely to face San Francisco in the first game. The arguments you make for San Fran beating Green Bay can be applied to New Orleans "upsetting" Philadelphia.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Daniel regarding Saints vs Eagles. The Eagles are scary but they've been the beneficiary of a very week NFC East/North schedule. The only playoff team they have defeated this season is the Packers who lost Rodgers the week prior and were forced to go to their third string QB after Seneca Wallace went down early in the game.

Edward said...

In my view, Cam needs to stop all the extracurricular stuff and start working with these receivers to re-learn how to throw and complete a pass under pressure, with time in the pocket, and also when leaving the pocket on a "slow" run. Lafell really needs extra work and attention.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, Edward.

Anonymous said...

Their is only one real scenario here. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Don't matter who you play and all that other analysis. Go 3-0 is all that matters now at this point.

Anonymous said...

Panthers must stop having Cam sit in the pocket as much as they do when coach Shula calls for passing plays. Set up moving pockets and boot legs as to give Cam a quicker option to pass or run. LaFell is who he is. Really good blocking WR with a number #3 WR hands. I don't like him as our teams #2 receiver and should be a #3. I don't like Smitty as our #1 but would be a wonderful #2 for us.

Crosscourier said...

Agree with Edward! The last two wins have been scraped out by a thin margin offensively, only our defense is stellar right now! Hopefully in the bye week they will really work with Cam to prep him to score more in the the playoffs with better throw mechanics. He has the talent for sure - just needs some additional coaching. Hopefully Smitty will be back though!

joe said...

Ron you with your staff have done an outstanding job this season, Now the playoffs you`ve got to have his offense fired up and ready to BATTLE, We have to work on Cams accuracy ,He must take advantage and make the most out of every opportunity every drive...PLEASE CHALLENGE HIS INTEGRITY...TO BE CONSISTANT, CHALLENGE YOUR STAFF TO SHOW WE ARE IN IT TO WIN IT ALL...OUR COACHING STAFF AND PLAYERS BACKS HAVE BEEN AGAINST THE WALL SINCE 1-3 WE`VE RALLIED SINCE THEN TO WERE WE ARE NOW,I SAY TAKE IT,ITS YOURS YOU`VE EARNED IT, PROVE YOUR WORTH..ITS TIME,TAKE WHATS RIGHTFULLY YOURS.PLAY SMART FAST AND CUNNING..SHULA ONCE EACH QUARTER A FLY PATTERN FROM CAM TO DOWNTOWN DO IT A-GINN.. IF CAM PUTS MORE ARCH ON THE DEEP PASS FOR GINN HE`LL BE ABLE TO RUN UNDER IT AND GO GET IT.....JUST DON`T UNDER THROW HIM.OVER THROW IF ANYTHING THAT WAY EITHER GINN CATCHES IT OR NO ONE DOES..

Anonymous said...

At this point everyone is good , but I think the best matchup would be the eagles .... I would not want to face Rodgers

JOE said...

Shula Please get Hixon involved in this offense he has playoff experience he wll be a asset for CAM.

Anonymous said...

Cam is clutch, Carolina and crew will be fine in the play offs. I'm tired of hearing about how carolina needs to watch out for opposing teams, No, teams need to watch out for them. This is a good team, I'm not concern a bit. They are pass good enough to be in the Super Bowl. No more laughing on them no more spitting on them and no more pushing them around. Carolina Take whats yours, The Lombardi Trophy! You deserve it!

Anonymous said...

Well with the strength of cam's arm good receivers catch the ball with their hands, catching the ball with your chest will only bounce off the chest protection from the shoulder pads can you hear me now.

Frankie said...

Nice article, Scott. Like some of the others, I'm picking the Saints to beat Philly, but we shall see. I'm picking Green Bay in the other game, but I admit I'm not betting on either game. I think the offense is beginning to click, and I look for the Panthers to put some points on the board, whoever they play. Smith will be motivated, as this will likely be his last chance to win it all. You don't want to be the guy covering him. Go Panthers!