Panthers destroy Falcons, win NFC South

The Panthers didn't finish with a .500 record but they're still division winners.

On Sunday, Carolina blew out the Falcons 34-3 in what was a championship game for the NFC South. Both teams were guaranteed to finish without winning records, though the rules state that division winners are guaranteed home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Therefore the 7-8-1 Panthers will host a first-round game next week as the NFC's No. 4 seed.

Against the Falcons, everything went right for the Panthers. The defense completely shut down what Atlanta wanted to do, forcing three turnovers, including two Matt Ryan interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Cam Newton wasn't asked to throw much (10-16, 114 yards, 1 touchdown) as the Panthers ran for a combined 194 yards.

The last time — and first time — a sub-.500 team reached the playoffs was following the 2010 regular season when the Seahawks finished with a 7-9 record and won the NFC West. The Seahawks went on to defeat the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round.

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