Week 15 of the 2016 NFL season concludes tonight when the Carolina Panthers take on the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
In a year that has been far from what the Panthers have hoped for and expected, the defending NFC champs still hold on to a slim possibility of making the postseason despite being 5-8 on the season.
The Washington Post indicates that the Panthers will need to win their final three games and get a little bit of help along the way, but in the crazy NFC South, it seems anything can happen. After the Atlanta Falcons had started the season 4-1, it looked like the South belonged to Atlanta. However, the Falcons have gone 4-4 since then and have left the door open for one of those possible wild finishes in Week 17.
While Carolina needs to win out and get a lot of help from several teams along the way, the Washington Redskins are in a much better position when it comes to their postseason perspectives.
The Redskins got a bit of help on Sunday with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions all losing, now Washington needs to take advantage of the situation and officially grab the No. 6 seed in the NFL playoff bracket. They currently own the seed. However, a loss tonight will put the Skins on the outside looking in once again.
A win would also give Washington a bit of revenge on Carolina for last season’s embarrassing defeat.
Carolina ripped through the Redskins like a hot knife through butter last season when they crushed Washington 44-16 in a game played in North Carolina. Cam Newton threw for five touchdowns in that game while the Panthers defense forced five turnovers.
It was clearly not a game that Cousins and the Redskins want to relive.
“Hopefully, we don’t turn it over five times,” Cousins said.
“You’d like to think we’re a more mature team… and you protect the ball better… I remember Carolina being one of the better defenses we played all year… A lot of the same players are back. I do think their defense is still very good and smart players.”
Ironically, just one year removed from that match-up the shoe is on the other foot so to speak, as it is the Panthers who have surprisingly fallen from grace and the Redskins who are looking to attempt to make the postseason.
The Carolina dynasty that so many fans thought was forming has seemingly fallen flat a year later. Nevertheless, the Panthers won’t go down without a fight.
A key match-up to keep an eye on tonight will be Carolina’s wide-out Kelvin Benjamin going up against Washington’s defensive-back Josh Norman. Norman spent his first four seasons with the Panthers and was a key part of their defense during their Super Bowl run last season.
After the 2015 season, the Carolina Panthers decided not to use the franchise tag on Norman, making him a free agent. Norman ended up inking the largest contract for DB with the Washington Redskins, and tonight he will collide with his former team for the first time.
Las Vegas odds makers have the Redskins listed as a 6.5 point favorite with the over/under number set at 50.
This game should be a close one. The Panthers have the talent to win, and it seems puzzling how they fell from the best to nearly the worst in the NFC conference in just one year. The real key is, do the Panthers even care about winning? Sometimes the body language leads fans to believe that they have packed it up for the year.
The Redskins get the big win they need tonight.
Pick — Washington -6.5
NFL fans can watch all of tonight’s Monday Night Football action nationally on ESPN. If you are on the go, the game will be streaming live online through Watch ESPN and the Watch ESPN app. It is free to download and lets you watch every play on your cell phone, tablet and all of your handheld devices. Game time is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]