Superman is going to the Super Bowl.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers don’t have to prove themselves anymore. At 8-0, there’s no doubt they’re the best team in the NFC.
People didn’t jump on their bandwagon after the Panthers opened with four wins against four mediocre teams. But they beat the Seahawks on the road, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Green Bay in the next four games.
A 37-29 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday was their most impressive win, even though they needed a defensive stand to hold on after nearly wasting a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Carolina has a two-game lead in the race for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and they’re 5-0 at home. So, book those plane tickets to Santa Clara, Panthers fans.
It’s time to overreact.
The Panthers are the class of the NFC, for now. They still have tough games ahead. Tony Romo should be back when they play at Dallas on Thanksgiving. They also have road games at New Orleans, the Giants and Atlanta.
Carolina might have to beat the Packers again in the playoffs and while it would likely be at home, it’s tough to bet against Rodgers in that rematch.
Here are other overreactions from Week 9:
OVERREACTION: Andrew Luck is back to greatness. Luck outplayed Peyton Manning again and helped the Colts hand Denver its first loss.
REALISTIC REACTION: Luck struggled in the first half, but injuries and inconsistent play around him were big factors so he didn’t deserve to fall off that elite pedestal.
OVERREACTION: Blaine Gabbert is the next Colin Kaepernick. Gabbert threw for 185 yards and led the 49ers with 32 yards rushing in guiding San Francisco to a 17-16 win over Atlanta in his first start since Kaepernick was benched.
REALISTIC REACTION: It’s one game. He was 5-22 as a starter before it.
OVERREACTION: Sam Bradford is Philadelphia’s answer at quarterback. Bradford threw for 296 yards and the game-winning TD in an OT win at Dallas.
REALISTIC REACTION: Bradford beat a team that has lost six games in a row. And, he needed more than 60 minutes to do it.
OVERREACTION: The Bengals and Patriots are headed for an AFC championship showdown. Both teams are 8-0.
REALISTIC REACTION: Uh, Andy Dalton has to win a playoff game to get there.
OVERREACTION: Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk is a genius for firing Ken Whisenhunt. Interim coach Mike Mularkey led Tennessee to a win at New Orleans in his first game.
REALISTIC REACTION: Teams often play well in his first game with a new coach — see Dolphins — and it certainly helped that Marcus Mariota returned from injury to lead the Titans.
OVERREACTION: Big Ben is out, so the Steelers are done.
REALISTIC REACTION: They’ve been here before and went 2-2 without him and are 2-0 in games he didn’t finish. They still have Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and a strong defense.
OVERREACTION: Mike Zimmer is coach of the year. The Vikings are 6-2.
REALISTIC REACTION: They haven’t beaten a team with a current winning record and their six wins have come against teams with a 13-34 record combined.
OVERREACTION: Dan Campbell’s Dolphins are the same as Joe Philbin’s Dolphins.
REALISTIC REACTION: They were 1-3 with Philbin and 2-0 with Campbell before losing at New England and at Buffalo. It’s tough to beat either team on the road.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL. Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_RobMaaddi
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