The Carolina Panthers are 12-0. They’re 6-0 at home and 6-0 on the road. They’re the only unbeaten in the NFL.
They’re also just four games from perfection.
How important is that for Carolina?
“That’s the big picture,” Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We really don’t talk about it. We just talk about every week taking it one team at a time. Eventually, it’ll take care of itself as far as the perfect season happening. So we don’t over-emphasize it here because we don’t want to get distracted (from) our game plan. But we know if we take one team at a time and if we do the things we need to do to win, it’ll take care of itself.”
The Panthers survived a scare against the Saints in New Orleans this past Sunday, overcoming a 14-point deficit and holding on for a 41-38 win. Cam Newton had 331 passing yards, 49 rushing yards and threw five touchdowns.
“Cam’s been great for the team,” Ealy said. “He’s been great for me personally. We’ve had conversations and things, and everything he tells me, it always come out right. As far as him being an effective leader, he’s all the way around an effective leader. . . . He’s always the MVP in my mind.”
Indeed, Newton, 26, has to be considered the MVP favorite at this point – both for his performance on the field and his contributions off it.
“When it’s game time and it’s practice time, he takes it very serious,” Ealy said. “Cam doesn’t have to do a whole lot of talking; he does a whole lot of leading (by example). That can go from low to high. He’s just that type of guy. He’s a people’s person when you get to know him. We have very good chemistry with our teammates and he’s very active within the team. . . . If you don’t know him, then you don’t know that. But that’s Cam.”
The Panthers host the slumping Falcons (6-6) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. Atlanta started the year 5-0 but has lost six of its last seven games. Ealy said the key to the game will be making Matt Ryan uncomfortable.
Ryan has thrown six interceptions in his last three games.
“You got to put as much pressure on him (as possible),” Ealy said. “And the pressure’s not going to do enough. You got to get him down – and that’s what we plan to do. We just got to see the things they’ve done up until this point and the things that make him uncomfortable.”