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

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

A general view of empty stands as players warm up prior to the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Results update: The Bucs came back to beat the Panthers 30-24 and clinch the NFC South title. It hasn’t been a good year for Tampa Bay, but they benefited from an awful division. Carolina shocked everybody with their turnaround after firing Matt Rhule, but they came up short in their bid for the title. The Bucs will be the No. 4 seed in the 2023 NFL Playoffs.

The NFC South has been a disaster this season, and as the division heads into Week 17, there is still the possibility of a team claiming the division title with a 7-10 record. We’re more likely to see an 8-9 or 9-8 champ, but we can dream, can’t we?

The division could be finalized on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play host to the Carolina Panthers. The game kicks off at Raymond James Stadium at 1 p.m. ET and the Bucs are a field goal favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

NFC South playoff picture

The Bucs are 7-8 and in first place in the division. The Panthers are 6-9 and tied with the Saints for second in the division. Carolina won the first matchup with New Orleans and thus holds the head-to-head tiebreaker until they meet in Week 18.

If the Bucs win this game, they would clinch the division title and the Panthers would be eliminated from playoff contention. If the Panthers win, they move into a tie for first with Tampa and would have the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep. In the latter scenario, Week 18’s scenario would be the Panthers win the division with a win or Bucs loss and the Bucs win the division with a win and a Panthers loss.

Wild card playoff picture

There is still a world in which the Bucs or Panthers win the NFC South and the other team claims the last wild card berth. The Panthers’ scenario involves ties, which is highly unlikely. The Bucs’ scenarios would involve numerous teams losing across Week 17 and Week 18, which you can read through at the unofficial NFL Playoff Scenarios website.

Tiebreaker implications

The head-to-head tiebreaker and division record tiebreakers are in play.