Final Verdict: It's time to stop doubting the Carolina Panthers.
For the second straight week, the Panthers notched a "statement" win, this time when Cam Newton hit Ted Ginn with the winning touchdown pass with about a minute left.
A last-second Tom Brady pass was intercepted in the end zone on a controversial non-call, and the end result was a 24-20 Panthers win that left both teams at 7-3.
ESPN: Patriots (7-6)
CBS Sports: Panthers (5-3)
Fox Sports: Patriots (3-2)
USA Today: Patriots (5-2)
Bleacher Report: Panthers (7-5)
Overall: Patriots (23-22)
With their one-point win at San Francisco last week, the Carolina Panthers made a statement that they are a legitimate contender in the NFC.
Now, riding a five-game winning streak, it doesn't get any easier this week. On Monday night, the Panthers play host to the New England Patriots, who are finally getting healthy on offense only to see the middle of the defense ravaged by injuries.
By the narrowest of margins, the Patriots are the pick this week. And with the vote this close, it's only fair to give each side a chance to present its case.
For Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey, it's a matter of that healthy New England offense: "I've been a big proponent of the Panthers defense," Schottey wrote, "but this Patriots team has new life with Rob Gronkowski back. Oh, and they still have Tom Brady."
However, NFC South Lead Writer Knox Bardeen points out that Carolina's offense hasn't exactly been struggling: "Over its last seven games, the Carolina offense has put up 30 points or more five times. The Panthers should do so again against this Patriots defense."