December 6, 2015 / 9:29 PM / 3 years ago

Carolina Panthers first team to clinch playoff berth

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on from the field prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The Carolina Panthers on Sunday became the first team to clinch a playoff berth in the National Football League.

Even before taking the field for their game against New Orleans, the 11-0 Panthers mathematically locked up first place in the NFC South when their closest division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It is the third consecutive year the Panthers have won their division.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Martyn Herman

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