Carolina Panthers must win Week 13 vs. Washington Redskins

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Ron Rivera
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Ron Rivera /

For the Carolina Panthers, Week 13 is a must win.

An NFL team with a losing record on the verge of mathematical elimination from the playoffs faces must win games regularly and the Carolina Panthers have one this week. A victory over the Washington Redskins would help keep Carolina alive, depending on other results, but it’s not necessarily on the playoffs where this team should be focused.

Realistically, there is little chance the Panthers win enough games to earn a wildcard berth. The New Orleans Saints already wrapped up the divisional title, becoming the first team to punch their ticket to the playoffs, leaving only one of two wildcards available to Carolina.

Already trailing both the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks by three and four games, respectively, the Panthers would need to win out and have other teams collapse over the final quarter of regular season play.

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Panthers fans are all too familiar with this scenario after starting last year with six wins through their first eight games before dropping seven straight. While not out of the realm of possibility for it to happen to another team, Carolina needs a win this week to avoid repeating their own recent history.

After starting 0-2, the Panthers rebounded with four straight wins and were 5-3 at the midway point. Three losses later and Carolina has a losing record while being in danger of another late season collapse. Sunday, at home, versus a Washington team with just two victories is the Panthers best opportunity for a win over this final stretch run.

A win would even their record and set up a revenge game versus the Falcons in Atlanta next week. Lose and the possibility of another seven or eight (depending on how New Orleans approaches the season finale) straight losses becomes increasingly likely.

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Already facing an uncertain future, back-to-back late season collapses (with or without starting quarterback Cam Newton) would likely signal significant franchise changes by new owner David Tepper.