The national reaction to Carolina's resounding 38-0 victory Sunday centered more around the disastrous effort by the New York Giants, rather than giving credit to the Panthers. Coach Ron Rivera wishes it wasn't that way.
"It's not fair," Rivera said. "Again, you'd like to point at some of the things that happened in the game and say, 'Wow, we've been doing it since we started in the preseason.'
"Our defense played well in the preseason. We played well against Baltimore, our first unit ... you like to say we deserve a little bit more attention, but that's alright. Believe me, I've got no problem flying under the radar. To me the more important thing is how our players feel about themselves."
Rivera is swimming upstream against two inarguable media trends: A New York team drowning in misery always will grab headlines, and the Panthers have to win a few games in a row before Rivera's defense will get the credit it deserves. As Dan Hanzus said on this week's "Around The League Podcast," there always will be skepticism over the Panthers' ability to win close games.
With all that said, Rivera has a point when it comes to his defense. Carolina's front seven is one of the NFL's best groups. It's going to keep them in games every week. The team's defensive line is the reason why I had the Panthers making the playoffs this season.
With Cam Newton making strides against the Giants and Rivera admittedly taking a more aggressive approach, there's reason for optimism during Carolina's bye week. This team won't stay under the radar if it plays to its potential.