The NFC playoff picture and the Carolina Panthers’ path to the postseason will become much clearer after they meet New Orleans in a road game on Sunday night.
But the Panthers (9-3) have already started preparations for a potential home playoff game, sending out invoices to 62,000 Personal Seat License owners last week inviting them to reserve their tickets for as many as two home playoff games.
If the Panthers want a shot at hosting a playoff game before the NFC Championship Game, they must win the NFC South.
Six NFC teams make the playoffs – the four division champions and the two teams with the next-best records. The two division champs with the best records get first-round byes, with the other two hosting wild-card games, even if they have inferior records.
The winners of those two games travel for the divisional round. The conference championship game will be hosted by the participant with the best regular-season record.
Carolina plays the Saints twice in 15 days, starting with Sunday night’s matchup, and those two games will go a long way in deciding the NFC South.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’s aware of the Panthers’ need to sweep the Saints to put them in the best position to win the division and possibly receive a first-round bye.
“But the biggest thing as we talked about to the players is taking care of our business,” Rivera said. “That is if we focus in on each game one game at a time, win each game one game at a time, we give ourselves that opportunity. I most certainly am aware of that.”
The last time the Panthers sent a playoff ticket invoice to PSL owners was 2008, when the team went 12-4 and hosted a divisional playoff game. Phil Youtsey, the Panthers director of ticket operations, said PSL owners have until Dec. 18 to reserve their tickets.
If PSL owners buy tickets but the Panthers do not host a playoff game, those fans can receive a refund or have the money roll over to next season’s tickets.
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