Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 38-0 victory against Atlanta.
▪ Cam Newton only enhanced his MVP chances Sunday.
Newton took advantage of great protection to pass for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Newton completed 15-of-21 passes and finished with a career high 153.3 passer rating.
Ted Ginn pulled down two of Newton’s TDs on throws of 74 and 46 yards. But Newton’s prettiest pass was the absolute dart he threaded between two defenders to TE Ed Dickson.
▪ Panthers are walking a thin injury line. Carolina had a number of injury scares Sunday, including a broken leg for starting CB Bené Benwikere, who was carted from the field in the fourth quarter.
The Panthers are still fighting for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and can’t sit everybody. But they have to look for ways to keep starters healthy, as they did Sunday when Greg Olsen (knee) and Jonathan Stewart (foot) sat out the second half.
▪ Panthers will have a first-round bye and at least one home game.
Carolina clinched a bye in the wild-card round, and will play at Bank of America Stadium in the divisional round.
The Panthers (13-0) still have a two-game edge on Arizona (11-2) for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, and could wrap that up next week.