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Shutdown Corner

NFC South might have just changed hands Sunday with Saints’ loss, Panthers’ win

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner

If the Carolina Panthers win their remaining two games, they could be the NFC South champions and the No. 2 seed in the conference with a first-week playoff bye. All that after the New Orleans Saints throttled them in Week 14.

That was made possible with the Saints' inexplicable 27-16 loss on the road — where they, apparently, are an average team — to the St. Louis Rams, and the Panthers' 30-20 win over the New York Jets.

Now, if the Panthers beat the Saints next week, they could be heading to Atlanta in Week 17 to ice up (son) the division. Amazing. And don't think Ron Rivera and the Panthers weren't aware of the situation during the game.

Rivera said he checked the scoreboard for NO game score more times than he would have liked.

Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) December 16, 2013

This is where Shutdown maestro Frank Schwab reminds you that he predicted the Panthers to win the South before the season. And it keeps going the incredible streak of no repeat champions in the division since its inception in 2002, as the Falcons were last season's champs and this year's chumps.

The Panthers have been, if nothing else, resilient. They started out 1-3, then ripped off eight straight wins. Then, after the beatdown by the Saints, they bounced back Sunday with a solid win over the Jets.

But it would mean a ton if they won home-field advantage instead of having to go on the road for the playoffs. At home, they have one loss (Week 1 to the Seattle Seahawks, 12-7) in seven games in Charlotte and have an aggregate score of 190-83 and haven't allowed more than 20 points in a game. On the road, they are only 4-3 with a combined score of 138-125.

And, heck, look at the Saints — an even bigger home-road split for them. They are 7-0 at home, outscoring opponents 230-108. On the road, they are a very human 3-4, outscored by a count of 162-112.

They need the Dome. More than the Panthers need Bank of America even.

But as things stand now, the Panthers can control their own destiny, win out, and find a path to the No. 2 seed.

Incredible.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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