The Panthers began preparation Monday for their biggest game of the season this coming Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Panthers own the NFC's top record with an 8-2 mark and Sunday's game with the Cowboys (7-3) could serve as a potential tiebreaker when it comes to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A win gives the Panthers a two-game lead over Dallas as well as the tiebreaker advantage. A loss, however, pulls the Cowboys even and gives Dallas the tiebreaker edge.
The Panthers have two tough games coming up with Dallas this week and Philadelphia at home next Sunday. Carolina's final four games don't appear that difficult - at least on paper. Carolina visits Atlanta and Arizona, then plays host to Detroit before finishing the regular season at the New York Giants. The Panthers still control their own destiny as far as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Panthers coach John Fox refused to look that far ahead, preferring to take it all one game at a time.
"It's an old belief, but it's effective," Panthers Fox said. Carolina might have a tough time running against a strong Dallas defense next Sunday, but they will try to pound away anyway. The Redskins sent eight and sometimes nine men up to the line to stop Stephen Davis on Sunday, but to no avail. He still ran for 92 yards and his presence really set up Carolina's passing game as the Redskins continually bit on play-action fakes.
--RB Stephen Davis averaged just 3.3 yards per carry against the Redskins, but he was a huge factor for the Panthers. Most of Carolina's big passing plays were set up when the Redskins were forced to honor the play-action fakes to Davis.
--RB DeShaun Foster broke a bone in his left hand, but hopes to be ready to play this week against Dallas. However, expect Stephen Davis to get the bulk of the carries against the Cowboys.
--DT Shane Burton injured his ankle in Sunday's game but the Panthers believe he'll be ready to play on Sunday against Dallas. Burton played a big part in Carolina's win Sunday over Washington in a reserve role with an interception and a fumble recovery.
--WR Kevin Dyson could be activated this week against Dallas. The Panthers have until next Monday (Nov. 24) to decide whether or not to activate Dyson to the 53-man roster.
--PK John Kasay had made 21 consecutive field goals before missing from 47 and 54 yards on Sunday. Kasay is still 22 of 24 this season and perfect from inside 45 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I played it down a little bit, but I had to keep y'all selling newspapers. It was personal. I spent seven years of my career there and I know a lot of people there. It was very personal." -- RB Stephen Davis, who had 132 all-purpose yards against his former team and scored the game-winning touchdown on 3-yard run with 1:09 left in the game.