Panthers now two games behind of NFC South’s top spot

The Carolina Panthers were one more New Orleans Saints stand away from holding destiny in their hands. But Tom Brady happened.

Monday night’s divisional matchup between the Saints and Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed the Panthers the more bitter to swallow in Week 13. An 11-play, 63-yard touchdown drive to close out the showdown pushed Tampa to an improbable 17-16 win and a two-game lead over Carolina in the NFC South.

So, as the playoff picture now stands, the Panthers need more than to just win out.

Carolina’s future schedule includes two more games against divisional opponents in these Buccaneers and Saints. If the Panthers can win both of those games they will be 5-1 within the NFC South for the first time since 2015.

Beyond that, they will also need Tampa to lose one more game outside of their Week 17 clash. It wouldn’t be the first time that Carolina has won the division with a losing record, as they made a similar effort back in 2014 at 7-8-1.

If this iteration of the Panthers can achieve the same feat, it would speak wonders to the turnaround that interim coach Steve Wilks (2014’s secondary coach) has done. And if he can bring this team back from the depths of despair they faced upon Matt Rhule’s dismissal, his name will surely need to be heavily considered to keep the role going into next year.

But, for now, here’s what the standings currently look like heading out of Week 13:

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)

  2. Atlanta Falcons (5-8)

  3. Carolina Panthers (4-8)

  4. New Orleans Saints (4-9)

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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire