The rise starts with Newton, who represents the Panthers' best chance at an overdue breakthrough season. The third-year pro is playing some of the best football of his career, and Thursday was a microcosm of all that's possible when No. 1 is at the top of his game.
Newton's mechanics were sound, his throws crisp and precise. He finished 23-of-32 passing for 221 yards and two touchdown passes and added 50 yards and one score on the ground. The Panthers have put up more than 30 points without committing a turnover in each of their past three games. That all starts with the guy who calls himself Superman.
The Panthers are winning games they should, a significant achievement for a team that's been afraid of its shadow for too long. The next test is winning games people think they shouldn't.