Panthers clinch first-round bye in style
• CAROLINA 38, ATLANTA 0: Cam Newton added to his MVP résumé, completing 15 of 21 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns, and the unbeaten Panthers blew out the visiting Falcons on Sunday to clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. Newton connected on scoring strikes of 74 and 46 yards to Ted Ginn Jr., and Jonathan Stewart ran for a touchdown as the Panthers (13-0) scored on their first three possessions. Newton also threw a 4-yard TD pass to Ed Dickson in the final seconds of the first half before leaving for good at the end of the third quarter with Carolina up 38 on Atlanta (6-7), losers of six in a row.
• ST. LOUIS 21, DETROIT 14: Todd Gurley ran for 140 yards and two second-half touchdowns, and the Rams (5-8) ended a five-game losing streak by beating the Lions (4-9), who didn't have much to show for extra days off to regroup from their Hail Mary loss to the Packers on Dec. 3. Calvin Johnson was held to one late 16-yard reception.
• NEW ORLEANS 24, TAMPA BAY 17: Drew Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes to Marques Colston and the Saints (5-8) stopped a four-game losing streak, beating the host Buccaneers (6-7), whose hopes to make a run at a NFC wild card took a hit.