CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera has gone from hot seat to potential NFL coach of the year candidate following Carolina's seven-game winning streak.
The Panthers (8-3) are in the hunt for their first NFC South division title since 2008, something few would have envisioned after Carolina stumbled out of the gate with a 1-3 start for the third straight season under Rivera.
But things changed.
Quarterback Cam Newton has caught fire, Carolina's defense has given up the fewest points in the league, and the Panthers are finding ways to win close games — something they struggled to accomplish early in Rivera's tenure.
The Panthers look to extend their winning streak Sunday when they host the resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have won three straight after beginning the season 0-8.
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