Let the national hype begin...
6. Carolina Panthers, 6-3 (LW: 11)
It's official. Carolina is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Panthers showed that they're capable of victory even when their explosive offense has an off-day, shutting down the 49ers in a 10-9 slugfest. It will ride a five-game winning streak into a home showdown against the Patriots. If Carolina defend its turf, it will put itself in position to battle for a first-round bye—all that after starting 1-3.