What a Win against Tampa Bay Will Mean for the Carolina Panthers

Hunter WrightContributor IIDecember 22, 2011

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 4:  Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with fans after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 4, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Panthers won 38 - 19. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are almost there. They have come so far in one season and would probably be in the playoffs this year if not for poor special teams and playing in the competitive NFC South. The offense has made a complete turnaround, moving from dead last in almost every category to being a top 10 unit. On the defensive side of the ball, Carolina has been holding on for dear life, awaiting next year's draft picks as well as the return of injured players Jon Beason and Thomas Davis.

A win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would solidify the Panthers' ascension to the next level. The Buccaneers have slowly fallen to last place in the division, losing their last eight games, and a win for Carolina will cap off the division standings.

This win won't look like much, but it will lock in Carolina as a contender in their division and bring them one step closer to the postseason. A 6-9 Panthers team would wipe clean the abysmal 2-14 record of last season and prove that it's worthy of future playoff contention.