What it means: The Falcons clinched the NFC South and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Panthers head home to start looking for a new coach and trying to figure out how they will use the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
What I liked: The way the Falcons responded after a tough Monday night loss to New Orleans. They were angry about that and they handled it in a constructive way. They went out and took down the Panthers right away. That gives them some momentum heading into the playoffs, and they’ll get a little time to rest up with a bye week.
What’s next: The Falcons have a first-round bye. They’ll host a divisional round playoff game in the Georgia Dome. It could be interesting if the rival New Orleans Saints come back to town. For the Panthers, owner Jerry Richardson is expected to speak publicly for the first time since he hired John Fox in 2002. It will come sometime in the next couple of days. Richardson will tell the media and his fans that general manager Marty Hurney and team president Danny Morrison will handle the majority of the coaching search. Once the list of candidates gets trimmed down, Richardson will get involved with the final decision.