Carolina Panthers get added incentive ahead of Week 8 clash at Falcons

(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks
(Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) Steve Wilks /

There is now added incentive for the Carolina Panthers ahead of what promises to be a crucial Week 8 clash with the Atlanta Falcons.

If the Carolina Panthers needed any further motivation for their upcoming divisional clash against the Atlanta Falcons, they got it in no uncertain terms.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ turbulent run of form continued with another defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football. This obviously means that if the Panthers down the Falcons on the road, it will put them in command atop the NFC South with a 3-5 record.

This notion seemed inconceivable just a fortnight ago when Carolina fired Matt Rhule following their dismal start. After trading Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers almost looked guaranteed to get the No. 1 overall selection and a legitimate shot at taking their franchise quarterback of the future.

Carolina Panthers have hope again in 2022

Now, there is hope again.

Interim head coach Steve Wilks has never stopped believing. His leadership and professional approach made notable strides initially and although they were beaten convincingly by the Los Angeles Rams, things came together in a big way in Week 7 against beleaguered quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs at Bank of America Stadium.

The Panthers are still 4.0-point underdogs in Atlanta according to FanDuel Sportsbook. But the line has come in significantly from the start of the week, which began with Carolina sitting at +6.5.

This growing sense of optimism is something enveloping the Panthers right now. It’s amazing what differences can emerge within a short space of time, but this will obviously count for nothing if Wilks’ men cannot build on their newfound momentum and pick up a second-straight triumph.

There are still some fans that want the team to begin tanking for someone like Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. While that could benefit the franchise long-term, current players are fighting for their futures and Wilks is also looking to convince team owner David Tepper that he’s the right man for the head coaching job beyond 2022.

Make no mistake, Atlanta should also see this as an opportunity to take charge of the division.

Much like the Panthers, little was expected of them heading into the season. But despite their relative lack of talent, the roster is pulling in the same direction under Arthur Smith and it promises to be a hostile atmosphere at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that represents a potential complication.

Life is all about seizing chances. The Panthers have had little to cheer in recent years, but to get themselves into first place would be a monumental confidence boost for a roster that could still go through some changes with the 2022 trade deadline fast approaching.

Wilks has already proven capable of making the best out of a bad situation. The mess left behind by Rhule was extensive, but morale is gradually improving and there’s just no telling what could be accomplished if Carolina managed to attain this feat on Sunday.

This is the time for players to stand up and show what they’re capable of. Carolina is hoping to get some influential figures back into the lineup and hopefully, quarterback PJ. Walker can continue the exceptional form he demonstrated versus the Bucs against a suspect Falcons secondary.

Meaning football is back for Carolina. And that is a good thing.

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