Upon hiring Ron Rivera as head coach and drafting Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, I predicted the Panthers would finish .500 over the next two seasons with six wins in '11 and 10 wins in '12.
However, the Panthers finished the 2011 season on a hot streak with four wins in a five-game stretch before losing badly to the New Orleans Saints in the season finale, and they will be much better next season on both sides of the ball with play makers returning to both units after an injury-plagued season.
Additionally, with a regime change in Tampa Bay, stagnation in Atlanta and way too much "Bountygate" drama in New Orleans, the NFC South is more wide open than it has been in the past several seasons.
I now believe my prediction for 10 Panthers wins in 2012 may actually be on the low side.
Panthers fans have seen their team rise from rags to riches in the past, namely when the 2003-2004 "Cardiac Cats" reached Super Bowl XXXVIII (38) after winning just one game a couple seasons earlier.
Though I am not predicting a Super Bowl berth for Carolina in year two of the Cam Newton and Ron Rivera era, I do believe they will make the 2013 NFL playoffs, and it will not be as a wild card.
I will be the first writer on BleacherReport.com and one of the first writers anywhere to go on record to predict an NFC South championship for the Carolina Panthers in 2012.
Let the comments begin.