An overall first-round pick ought to have shoulders strong enough to carry a franchise, right?
Especially if he's the quarterback. And especially if that quarterback happens to be 6'5" and 245 pounds, like Cam Newton.
Carolina is one of 20 NFL teams at 1-1 after Week 2 (heck, two divisions are loaded with 1-1 teams)—about as average and ordinary as you can get, right?
There are some concrete and credible signs, though, that Carolina's 1-1 might just be better than another team's 1-1. Week 3 will give us a whole new perspective. It'll help tell us if Carolina's victory means the Panthers are on the rise, or if the New Orleans Saints are just on the decline.
"To set a new standard around here, we had to beat them," Panthers tackle Jordan Gross said of the Saints, whom Carolina hadn't beaten since 2009, "so it was huge for us to get this win."
Here's five indicators—evolving from Carolina's opening-day loss at Tampa Bay, through a home win against New Orleans and into Thursday's clash with the New York Giants—that Newton's Panthers are closer to 2-0 Atlanta than they are to 0-2 New Orleans on the momentum plane.
All quotes were obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted.