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Saints-Panthers final score: 49ers now tied with Carolina

Breaking down how the Panthers loss to the Saints impacts the playoff race.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

The New Orleans Saints bounced back well Sunday evening, defeating the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 31-13. The Saints were coming off a 34-7 shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, but they showed they remain a strong team at home.

The Panthers looked strong early, containing the Saints offense in the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Cam Newton and company could only manage a pair of field goals, taking a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. The Saints offense turned things around quickly, and by halftime they led 21-6. The Saints only added ten points in the second half, but it didn't matter as Carolina could not get anything going.

With the loss, the Panthers drop to 9-4, and are now tied with the 49ers in the wildcard race. The Panthers get the edge because they beat San Francisco, so they currently hold the No. 5 seed, while San Francisco holds the No. 6 seed. There are still games left this season, and with Carolina hosting New Orleans in two weeks, for now we're left to root for the Saints.

Here's a quick look at the remaining schedule for the two teams.

Week 49ers Panthers
15 @ Bucs vs. Jets
16 vs. Falcons vs. Saints
17 @ Cardinals @ Falcons

If the 49ers remain the No. 6 seed, they would face the No. 3 seed, currently the Eagles. If the 49ers move up to the No. 5 seed, they would face the No. 4 seed, currently the Lions. The Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over the Eagles, and would move back into first with a win on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys host the Eagles to close the season.

If the 49ers are the No. 6 seed and win their first round game, they would have to face the No. 1 seed, likely Seattle. If the 49ers are the No. 5 seed and win their first round game, they would face the No. 1 seed if the 3 seed beat the 6 seed, and they would face the No. 2 seed if the 6 seed beat the 3 seed. The NFL re-seeds the winners after the first round. Get all that?

There is plenty of football left, but that's how it stands for now.