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December 19, 2014

Panthers can help NFC South avoid another dubious distinction

The Panthers need help from Atlanta or Tampa Bay if they are to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.

But with a win Sunday against Cleveland, the Panthers can help their NFC South rivals avoid the distinction of finishing with the worst out-of-division record since the NFL realigned in 2002.

Through 15 weeks, NFC South teams have combined for a 9-28-1 record in non-division games. Since the league went to eight, four-team divisions 12 years ago, the 2008 NFC West has the worst out-of-division mark at 10-30.

The Arizona Cardinals won the West with a 9-7 record that season, and advanced to the Super Bowl with a three-game playoff run that included a thrashing of the Panthers in the Jake Delhomme Interception Fest.

The NFC South has two chances Sunday to avoid earning the "worst ever" crown, although the Panthers would seem to have the best shot against the Browns.

Tampa Bay (2-12) is a 10-point home underdog against Green Bay.        

The NFC South already has set a couple of dubious distinctions this season.

Atlanta and New Orleans, at 4-7, became the first teams in NFL history to lead a division at three games under.500.

That same week, the South became the first division to have each of its teams at least three games under .500, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The South is assured of crowning a division champ without a winning record. That's only happened three times previously -- Denver (8-8) in 2011, Seattle (7-9) in 2010 and San Diego (8-8) in 2008.

All three of those teams hosted -- and won -- first-round playoff games.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera was the defensive coordinator of that Chargers' team, which won its final four games to win the AFC West, then knocked off Indianapolis in the playoffs.

Rivera started telling his team and the media about the 2008 Chargers several weeks ago when the NFC South was well on its way to challenging records for futility.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 19, 2014 at 09:59 AM | Permalink


No the NFC West a few years ago was one of the worst.

Posted by: par404 | Dec 19, 2014 9:18:44 PM

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