Carolina Panthers Roll into Bye Week

Josh ClaytonContributor IOctober 30, 2008

The Carolina Panthers are third in the NFL.

"What?" you say. "Surely, you meant to say third in the NFC South."


"Third in the NFC?"

No. I meant what I said.

Only the undefeated Tennessee Titans and the one-loss New York Giants are ahead of the 6-2 Panthers right now, which is astonishing, considering what many thought of the Panthers only several weeks ago. Let's review, shall we?

  • The Panthers' first pick was an injured player, RB Jonathan Stewart.
  • Their most dynamic player, wideout Steve Smith, was suspended for the first two games.
  • They haven't had a winning season since 2005.
  • Quarterback Jake Delhomme's offseason surgery on his throwing elbow caused doubt in his ability to come back as the player he once was.

Fueled by young guns and guided by veteran leadership, the Panthers have become a force in the NFL. Led by Jake Delhomme—who is as good or better than he was at any other point in his NFL career—the Cats have had a playoff-caliber season to date.

With their only losses coming on the road to Minnesota and Tampa Bay, the Panthers have had something that has been missing for a very long time: a perfect home record. At 5-0 in Charlotte, Carolina has a valuable foundation to build on.

In the tough NFC South, the Panthers will struggle with tough division games closer to the end of the season. However, with consecutive games against dismal Detroit and Oakland teams, the Panthers should be able to get a boost coming out of their bye week.

Maybe that boost will last until February.