It's a scene that's played out on many TV shows, movies and commercials. Normal Guy stands at crowded bar. Normal Guy spots Gorgeous Girl across the room. Eye contact is established. Coy smiles are exchanged. But as Normal Guy makes his way over to introduce himself, Muscle Man boyfriend emerges with a drink for Gorgeous Girl. Normal Guy is left to ponder what might have been.
In the crowded bar that is the NFL playoff picture, the Carolina Panthers might find out what it's like to be Normal Guy. The Panthers can see the big prize, homefield advantage in the NFC, and can claim it Sunday with a win over the Giants. But should the Panthers lose to the Giants, then lose again at New Orleans in the season finale, Carolina would be in jeopardy of missing the postseason all together and have to watch the Bucs, Falcons or Cowboys have all the fun.
Below, we break down the playoff picture two ways: 1) As though the season ended today; and 2) As though the season will play out the way we predict it will. We will continue to do this weekly until the playoff field is set.
(We use the