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Carolina Panthers

Ask Bryan: Playoff possibilities


If the Panthers win Sunday, who will they face in the playoffs? David in El Paso, Texas

Obviously that's a big "IF," and of course the Panthers are fully focused on beating the Atlanta Falcons before they worry about what team they could face in the playoffs. But since you asked, there are only two possibilities – the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.

A victory by Carolina would put the Panthers in the playoffs as the NFC South champions and No. 4 seed. They would host the top wildcard team, which because of tiebreakers will be the team that loses out in the NFC West race. The Seahawks have the upper hand in the division race, which means Arizona is the team most likely bound for an NFC South city. Both teams are 11-4, but the reigning Super Bowl champions have won five consecutive games and eight of nine starting with a narrow victory over Carolina. The Cardinals have found a way all season despite crippling injuries at quarterback, but they've lost three of five.

Seattle hosts a pesky St. Louis team Sunday, while Arizona visits San Francisco. The Seahawks lost to the Rams, and the Cardinals beat the 49ers in their previous meetings.

Why was our game moved to 4:25 p.m. and CBS? – Amy in Wendell, N.C.

Simply put, to get the best ratings possible for the national broadcasts on CBS and FOX.

The NFL has flexed games into different time slots for years now, but this is the first year they've allowed "cross flex," the moving of games between CBS and FOX. Both networks have a national game in the four o'clock window this week, and since FOX already had the Packers-Lions game for the NFC North title, the league moved the Panthers-Falcons game for the NFC South crown to CBS.

CBS's lead broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the game.

What Panthers are going to make the Pro Bowl? – Matt in Atlanta

The Pro Bowl selections will be announced tonight at 8 p.m. on NFL Network. We'll have full coverage on

It would be a big surprise if linebacker Luke Kuechly didn't make the squad, and it would be a big disappointment if tight end Greg Olsen didn't. Kuechly, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, led the fan vote for inside linebackers, and it's hard to imagine players and coaches not voting for him. Olsen was fifth in fan voting at a position that will feature four selections. His numbers stack up against any of the candidates, but will the players and coaches take note in their vote?

Center Ryan Kalil and linebacker Thomas Davis deserve consideration, but since you asked me who was going to make it, I have to say that I don't like their chances of getting enough love from voters. Of course, none of the Panthers picked actually want to play in the game this year – they hope they're preparing to play in the Super Bowl instead.

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