Carolina Panthers

Can the Panthers actually still make the playoffs?

Previewing Carolina Panthers versus Washington on Monday Night Football

Charlotte Observer reporters Joseph Person and Jourdan Rodrigue preview Monday night's NFL matchup between Carolina and Washington.
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Charlotte Observer reporters Joseph Person and Jourdan Rodrigue preview Monday night's NFL matchup between Carolina and Washington.

So it turns out I prematurely eliminated the Panthers from the playoff chase.

According to the number crunchers for ESPN’s football power index, the Panthers have a 0.0004 chance of claiming the NFC’s second wild card.

That equates to betting odds of about 250,000-to-1.

So you have a better chance of going to the emergency room for a pogo stick-related injury during your lifetime (1 in 115,000) than the Panthers have at defending their NFC title.

But hey, in the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Carolina (5-8) needs 10 games to break right, not the least of which is having Washington (7-5-1) tie another game.

According to ESPN, no NFL team has finished with two ties since overtime was added to regular-season games in 1974.

Here’s what has to happen for the Panthers to extend their season:

--Carolina has to win out.

--Tampa Bay (8-6) needs to lose its last two games, including its Jan. 1 date with the Panthers.

--Green Bay (8-6) loses its final two games.

--Minnesota (7-7) has to knock off the Packers, but fall to Chicago in Week 17.

--New Orleans (6-8) needs to defeat the Bucs, but lose its regular-season finale at Atlanta.

--And then the biggie ... Washington needs to go 0-1-1 over its final two games after losing to Carolina on Monday night.

I’d feel better about the Panthers’ chances if Al Michaels had been in the booth Monday night at FedEx Field.

Michaels, of course, did the play-by-play for the United States ice hockey team’s gold-medal victory over the Soviet Union in 1980. As the final seconds ticked off, Michaels delivered one of the most famous calls in U.S. sports history:

“Do you believe in miracles? ... Yes!”

In the case of the Panthers’ playoff hopes? Not so much.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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