Carolina Panthers playoff scenarios, how to win the NFC South

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CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After a disastrous 2016 campaign, the Carolina Panthers are finally back in the playoffs!

Following a thrilling 22-19 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of American Stadium on Sunday, the Panthers find themselves sitting comfortably with the NFC’s No. 5 seed and tied with the New Orleans Saints atop the NFC South at 11-4.

With the NFC’s top seed wrapped up and the conference’s No. 2 seed all but decided, the Panthers have their sights set on the Saints and the NFC South crown.

With two of the Panthers’ four losses coming from the Saints, things are complicated a bit, but here are possible scenarios for the Panthers:

To win the NFC South: The Panthers have to beat the Atlanta Falcons while the Saints have to lose to the Buccaneers.

No. 2 seed: The Panthers have to win at Falcons, Saints lose to Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams loses to San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings lose to Chicago Bears. (Whoever wins the No. 2 seed gets a first-round bye)

No. 3 seed: The Panthers have to win at Falcons, Saints lose to Buccaneers, then either the Vikings or Rams have to lose to move Carolina’s seeding up.

No. 4 seed: The Panthers have to win at Falcons, Saints lose to Buccaneers. If the Vikings and Rams both win, Carolina grabs this seed.

No. 5 seed: If the Saints win or the Panthers lose, Carolina is locked into the No. 5 seed and will visit the No. 4 seed.

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