An 11-5 team could miss the playoffs for the 3rd time in NFL history

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We’ve made it through 15 weeks of regular season games and the playoff picture is molding into shape. Over in the NFC we have a pretty good idea who five of the six teams advancing will be, and given the lowly nature of the NFC East it’s hard to get excited about the sixth.

Mens Luis Gonzalez Jersey In the AFC, though, the situation is different. Not only are all the top seeds still jockeying for byes and home field advantage, but the Wild Card race is as competitive as it’s ever been. Sure, there have been years when more teams have been battling for the conference’s final two playoff spots. But it’s been a while since an 11-5 team was left out of postseason play (the 2008 Patriots) and it’s something that’s only happened twice.

And yet, here we are, with the 10-4 Broncos, and 9-5 Chiefs, Steelers and Jets, all fighting for three possible spots. When the playoffs start, one of them will be left out in the cold.

The Panthers are only the third team to start a season 14-0 since the NFL switched to a 16-game schedule. The first was the 2007 New England Patriots who blazed forward in pursuit of perfection and reached 16-0, but lost in the Super Bowl. The second was the 2009 Indianapolis Colts who rested starters and coasted down to the stretch to a 14-2 record before also losing in the Super Bowl.

Two different strategies yielded the same end result.

But for the Panthers, a 14-0 start to the season has happened while Rivera has encouraged the team to have fun every step of the way. When the team was criticized for dancing too much in victories, Rivera fanned the flames by giving dabbing his seal of approval and even dabbing himself. So letting go of the reins and letting the Panthers continue to have fun with their foot on the gas pedal is only to be expected.

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