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NFL playoff picture: What does Bucs-Panthers mean for NFC standings

The Bucs face the Panthers in Charlotte on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view during the Nation Anthem during the game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 7, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Result: The Bucs crushed the Panthers 32-6 to clinch the NFC South title. Tampa is a game back of the Packers for the No. 1 seed heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

The Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 16 matchup that offers little divisional intrigue, but does offer the Bucs a chance for a crowning achievement. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game will air on FOX.

The Bucs are 9.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook. The Panthers have activated Sam Darnold off IR and the QB situation between him and Cam Newton is unclear heading into Sunday.

Bucs playoff picture

The Bucs are 10-4 and can clinch the NFC South with a win or tie on Sunday or if the Saints lose or tie. The division title is all but a certainty, so it’s more about their seeding. The Bucs, Cowboys, and Cardinals are all tied behind the first place Packers. No. 2 Dallas has the edge over No. 3 Tampa Bay and No. 4 Arizona based on conference record. TB then has the edge on AZ based on strength of victory.

Panthers playoff picture

The Panthers are 5-9 and will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss or ties and various combinations of other teams winning. But given their heavy underdog status to the Bucs, they are likely going to be eliminated this weekend.

Relevant Week 16 matchups

Packers 24, Browns 22
Colts 22, Cardinals 16
Rams (10-4) @ Vikings (7-7)
Buccaneers (10-4) @ Panthers (5-9)
Washington (6-8) @ Cowboys (10-4)