Just a few years ago you would have never expected to see the Carolina Panthers playing in a primetime game against the New York Giants. In fact you would have been hard pressed to see them playing on anything but Fox NFL Sunday (that's if you live in that market)
Things have changed and the culture of football has changed in Charlotte since the arrival of Cameron Newton. Cam has energized the team and offers the same excitement that Mike Vick once brought to the Falcons and that Peyton Manning once brought to the Indianapolis Colts.
Newton is the centerpiece but the Panthers have other stars. They have gotten some key pieces on defense to make the team more balanced and they have upcoming stars like Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen to compliment a stellar backfield and the always consistent Steve Smith.
Keeping things in perspective is good and the Panther coach Ron Rivera seems to have these guys locked in. Defensively they are making teams work and that is always good for a team that likes to run the ball and control the time of possession.
Tonight the Panthers have a chance to improve their position amonst the elite teams in the league and make their mark on the season. A win versus the defending champs will add to the credibility of the franchise and help establish a pedigree of winning big games on the big stage.