Riverboat Ron knew all along.
From Carolina's win over the New York Jets on Sunday to the New Orleans Saints falling to the St. Louis Rams, Panthers coach Ron Rivera predicted the course of the NFC South more than a week ago, according to one of his players.
"(He) told us that was going to happen," offensive tackle Jordan Gross said Sunday, per The Charlotte Observer. "I didn't know he was a fortuneteller. (After the Week 14 loss to New Orleans) he said keep believing and keep working, because the Saints are going to lose one on the road and we're going to play them in two weeks for the division title."
More than just that. A victory over the Saints next Sunday coupled with a win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17 would hand the Panthers a bye as the conference's second seed. Quite a comeback after Carolina started 1-3 amid whispers that Rivera would be sent to the bread line after the season.
Rivera's job is safe, largely because he adapted and evolved during a campaign that's seen Carolina morph into a beast down the stretch. We'd argue that the Panthers are the NFC's brightest hope to challenge the Seahawks in Seattle if that's what it boils down to in January.
"That guy believes, man," Gross said. "It's pretty infectious."