CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CSL/AP) – The Carolina Panthers control their playoff destiny with four games remaining in the regular season.
Behind interim head coach Steve Wilks’ smash-mouth football and solid, opportunistic defense, Carolina has won three of its last four games.
If Carolina wins out, they’ll be NFC South champs.
“Protect the bank; we don’t lose at home,” Wilks said to the team after their first road win of the season, a 30-24 triumph at Seattle. “We protect the bank!”
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Tampa Bay (6-7) is in first place, but the Panthers have already beaten the Buccaneers, and they’ll meet again in Week 17. A win at Tampa gives the Panthers the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Panthers will also hold a division tiebreaker over the Atlanta Falcons (5-8) if they win out.
“It’s thrilling, just for the men in that locker room, for how hard they work, how dedicated they have been,” Wilks said. “We found ourselves to be able to work through it. Always talk about don’t allow it to get in the way, whatever it may be.
Good news as the team enters its next match: wide receiver DJ Moore participated in practice Wednesday; he was listed as ‘day-to-day’ with an ankle/knee injury after Sunday’s game.
The Panthers plan to get a third straight win against the Steelers this Sunday, Dec. 18, at 1:00 p.m. back home in Charlotte.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.