NFL Power Rankings: Cardinals rise, Packers fall in Week 17

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Dec 27, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts after fumbling Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports


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The streak had to end at some point, but unfortunately for the Carolina Panthers, it happened just two games short of the perfect season. The Panthers hadn’t lost a regular season game for 392 days, but the Atlanta Falcons finally put an end to that run with a thrilling 20-13 win inside the Georgia Dome.

The Panthers ran into a fired up Falcons team, desperate to avenge the 38-0 humiliation they suffered at Bank of America Stadium two weeks earlier. The image of the Panthers offense taking selfies on the sideline would have been fresh in their minds, and Dan Quinn had his team fired up.

But that doesn’t matter, nor does the loss for the Panthers. The fact is, if they win next week against the Buccaneers, they enter the NFC playoffs with the No. 1 seed, which ensures they will have played their final road game. What they must do is avoid a second loss in a row. The Broncos, Bengals, Patriots and Packers all saw their undefeated starts ended with consecutive losses, and the Panthers can’t afford to join the list.

Doing so would open the door for the Cardinals to grab the No. 1 seed.

Next: No. 1