- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The message came from a well-known NASCAR driver within hours of the Carolina Panthers clinching the NFC South title and a first-round playoff bye with Sunday's 21-20 victory over Atlanta.
"When do the Panthers play next?" asked the driver, who drove from Charlotte to Atlanta to watch the game.
He wasn't the only one asking.
So here's what we know:
Date and time: The Panthers (12-4), as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, will play on Jan. 12 at 1:05 p.m. ET
Opponent: Coach Ron Rivera and his staff would like to know as well, but won't until this weekend. It'll be either No. 3 seed Philadelphia, No. 4 Green Bay or No. 5 San Francisco. As the second seed, Carolina will play the highest seeded team after wild-card weekend. If the Eagles beat New Orleans on Saturday night in Philadelphia, they will travel to Charlotte. If the Saints win, the Panthers will play the winner of Sunday's game between San Francisco at Green Bay. They can't play the Saints or top-seeded Seattle, which will host the lowest seeded team.
If they win: The Panthers would travel to Seattle for the Jan. 19 NFC Championship if the Seahawks win. If the Seahawks lose, they would host the NFC Championship.
9hEric D. Williams