The Carolina Panthers' impressive 35-10 win improved their perception around the league as a team that has a lot more to prove this season.
SB Nation released its latest power rankings, where the Panthers gained two spots -- now sitting at 24th in the league. Ryan Van Bibber explained that the rise is due to Cam Newton's excellent passing, while pointing out that this team is far more talented than its record shows.
Cam Newton threw the ball 26 times. The Panthers ran it 39 times. Surprisingly enough, all that balance paid off. Newton threw three touchdown passes and added another one on the ground. Best of all, Newton's 9.3 yards per attempt was his best mark this season. This team's too talented to be under .500 this year.
It's hard to argue with either the ranking, or the justification why. Ron Rivera seems to have finally turned a corner, but can he be trusted enough yet for rankings to reflect a team trending upwards? That's a harder sell.
The Panthers are undoubtedly better than a typical 2-3 team, but there are a lot of those this year. One can argue that Houston, Atlanta and Washington are all much better on paper than their sub-500 record shows -- but here we are.
Carolina next faces St. Louis, a 3-3 team that also climbed two spots in the ranking after the team's win over the Texans. A Panthers victory would get the team to .500, and more importantly change the national perception more.