Despite their current 5-9 record, the Carolina Panthers astonishingly control their own destiny in the playoff race. Despite this, interim head coach Steve Wilks says that he doesn’t want anyone on the team focusing on the playoffs, and would rather everyone worry about fixing themselves and taking things one game at a time.
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Steve Wilks Doesn’t Want Anyone Focusing on Panthers Playoff Odds
Focus on “Getting Ourselves Right”
Speaking to reporters after Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wilks spoke about how the execution was lacking in the contest.
“I thought the focus was fine. The execution did not prevail. And still not worrying about it last week, not worrying about it now. We gotta worry about trying to get ourselves right to win a football game. I don’t want anybody in this building talking playoffs.”
Steve Wilks: “I thought we were ready. We just didn’t go out there and execute. And it starts with our run fits … And we didn’t run the ball at all.” pic.twitter.com/69OMDruLNp
— Josh Graham (@JoshGrahamRadio) December 18, 2022
This is the correct attitude to have. Despite the loss, the Carolina Panthers still have complete control of their playoff destiny thanks to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers losing their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, even with the playoffs in sight, nobody would confuse the Panthers with a legitimate contender. The NFC South is one of the worst divisions in the history of the NFL, and if the Panthers actually want to go anywhere, they’ll need to get a lot better at executing at a consistent level.
Panthers Playoff Odds
Just because Steve Wilks doesn’t want the team thinking about the playoffs, it doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the odds here. 5-9, the Panthers can sneak into the postseason if they win all three of their remaining games. Next week, they’ll take on the Detroit Lions before closing the season against the Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints.
Far and away the hardest upcoming challenge is the Detroit Lions. After a slow start to the season, Detroit has come alive in recent weeks and is now in the thick of the playoff race. While they can’t catch the Minnesota Vikings, they have a great shot at a Wild Card birth, and they will give the Panthers everything they have.
If the Panthers can pull out a win, then you have to feel good about their odds of winning the division. The Buccaneers remain the worst-coached team in football, as the inept duo of Todd Bowles and Byron Leftwich are actively ruining a fairly talented roster. Carolina comfortably beat the Buccaneers the last time these two teams faced off, and they should be able to do it again. The Saints, meanwhile, shouldn’t pose much of a threat, as they have fallen a long way without Sean Payton and Drew Brees running the show.
If the Panthers lose to the Buccaneers, that probably ends their season. However, if they lose one of the other two games, they can still make the playoffs with some help. Tampa Bay will need to lose at least one of their two remaining non-Panthers games, but unfortunately for Carolina, the Buccaneers have a very easy end to the season. Next week, they face off against a broken Arizona Cardinals team that might be starting Trace McSorley. After the Panthers game in Week 17, they close the season with Desmond Ridder’s Falcons, which is basically a free win.
The Buccaneers are a bad team that could lose to anyone, but these are the closest things to free wins that you’re ever going to find in football. The Panthers can’t bank on Tampa Bay losing more games, so they’ll need to win out if they want a real shot at the postseason.