CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers' final game of the regular season against the Falcons will be played a little later than originally scheduled.
Kickoff for Carolina at Atlanta has been moved from 1:00 to 4:25 p.m. on Sunday, December 31. The same can be said for the Saints-Buccaneers matchup in Tampa Bay. Both of those games will air on FOX.
With the NFC South title still up for grabs between the Panthers and Saints, the league wanted the competing teams to take the field at the same time.
"We felt that both from a competitive standpoint and from a fan perspective, the most fair thing to do is to schedule all Week 17 games in either the 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. ET windows," said NFL Senior Vice President of Broadcasting Howard Katz. "This ensures that we do not have a matchup on Sunday Night Football on New Year's Eve that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams."
The Panthers, who secured a playoff spot with the victory over Tampa Bay in Week 16, can clinch the NFC South title with a win over the Falcons coupled with a loss by the Saints. The Falcons have not yet clinched a playoff spot.