How did teams from the NFC South Division fare during Week 11 of the NFL season and how it relates to the Carolina Panthers…
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Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) with the ball as New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Craig Robertson (52) and cornerback B.W. Webb (28) defend in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Facing a short week, the Carolina Panthers responded with a victory on Thursday night kicking off Week 11 of the regular season. Winning the divisional game, Carolina split the season series with New Orleans while games versus both Atlanta and Tampa Bay remain.
An upcoming west coast trip in which the Panthers will stay for the duration presents unique challenges. However, if Carolina is fortunate enough to at least split games against Oakland and Seattle, their playoff chances are likely to remain in tact. Currently, every team in the NFC South remains eligible for both the playoffs and division title.
Continue to view each teams’ outcome from Week 11 and a preview of the week ahead.
Nov 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) leads a pre-game huddle before warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia defeated Atlanta 24-15. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA FALCONS (6-4), 1st Place
Week 11 Outcome: BYE
Week 12 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1), 1:00pm ET
Entering the bye week, the Falcons knew that regardless of the outcomes from Week 11 they would exit with the NFC South lead. Holding a one game lead over Tampa Bay and two games over both Carolina and New Orleans, the Falcons control their own destiny for the remainder of the season.
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) celebrates after strong safety Chris Conte (not pictured) intercepted a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-5), 2nd Place
Week 11 Outcome: Buccaneers 19, Chiefs 17
Week 12 Opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1), 4:05pm ET
Since losing a prime time matchup with the division leading Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay has won two in a row. After being awarded a scheduling gift by facing the Chicago Bears at home a week ago, the Bucs traveled into Arrowhead Stadium and exited with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Evening their record with five wins and losses, the Buccaneers are only one game back of the division lead. Of the six games remaining for Tampa Bay, three come against divisional opponents. Two against New Orleans and a Week 17 contest in Carolina.
Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Luke McCown (7) reacts after the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Saints 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (4-6), 3rd Place
Week 11 Outcome: Saints 20, Panthers 23
Week 12 Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Rams (4-6), 1:00pm ET
After losing two tough games back-to-back, the New Orleans Saints host the newly led Los Angeles Rams in the Superdome. Remaining in the mix for both the division and playoffs despite the loss to Carolina, the Saints will look to respond in a big way.
Still facing a favorable schedule for the remainder of the year, New Orleans is one of the dark horses to move up and challenge the Falcons for the division title. Even at 4-6, only the Lions and Falcons have winning records for their final six games, which features two divisional contests with Tampa Bay and a final one versus the Falcons.
Nov 17, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after wide receiver Ted Ginn (19) (not pictured) scores a touchdown in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-6), 4th Place
Week 11 Outcome: Panthers 23, Saints 20
Week 12 Opponent: at Oakland Raiders (8-2), 4:25pm ET
If the Carolina Panthers fail to make the playoffs in 2016 there will be plenty of games to look back on and think what could have been. Denver, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and Kansas City to name a few. Even if Carolina had managed to win half of those they let slip away, they would currently be 6-4 instead of 4-6 and in last place.
However, those are in the past and reality is that now the future of the season hinges on the outcome of two games on the west coast. Carolina will first travel to the AFC West division leading Oakland Raiders, remaining in California and then traveling north to face Seattle in a Week 13 matchup.
Carolina must find a way to at least split the road trip and a win on Sunday would take a lot of pressure off for the trip to Seattle. Looking ahead, once the Panthers return to Carolina a final four game push is conceivable, but two losses in the next two weeks could render those games meaningless.