CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Will the Carolina Panthers be better than they were a year ago?
According to a Charlotte Observer poll taken after Carolina completed a 3-1 preseason, 81 percent said the Panthers will improve with only 3 percent voting they will be worse.
That's a fair assessment, considering the team has improved by one win -- 6-10 to 7-9 -- in coach Ron Rivera's first two seasons. Whether they improve enough to make the playoffs remains to be seen.
I can't see them winning more than nine games. In a division with Atlanta and New Orleans, that likely will rank third in the NFC South and a game out of the playoffs.