Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Last year's game in Glendale, Ariz., with Vinny Testaverde playing quarterback for the Panthers and Tim Rattay for the Cardinals, was about as ugly a game as you'll ever see. But the play of Carolina's Jake Delhomme and Arizona's Kurt Warner makes this game a lot more attractive.
Delhomme has more offensive talent around him than at any other point of his career and he's just starting to discover what that means. Coordinator Jeff Davidson took over the offense last year, but his system is really just starting to click. There's balance between the running and passing game and, aside from a Week 6 slip at Tampa Bay, this offense has seemed to get better each week.
For the first time in a long time, the Panthers have enough offense to win a shootout.
The latest chapter in the story that's been Matt Ryan's rookie year is the homecoming. The quarterback grew up just outside Philadelphia and his return, along with the surprising success of the Falcons, has been a big story in the local media.
But sooner or later, the world's got to stop being so shocked by Ryan and the Falcons. They've played with everybody this year and even won at Lambeau Field.
A trip to Philadelphia just gives Ryan and the Falcons one more chance to prove they're for real.
The Bucs sometimes get accused of being a boring team. When you're comparing them to the Cowboys, that may be a big edge.
There's really nothing flashy about the Bucs and, unlike the Cowboys, they don't have any controversy brewing. At least not anymore. Quarterback Jeff Garcia has stepped back into the lineup and quietly brought a steadiness to the offense.
That might have been all the Bucs really needed to put them over the top because the defense already was going to keep them in every game.
But that excuse no longer works. Former starter Deuce McAllister is a capable fill-in for Bush, the rebuilt defense is healthier than it's been and this team, on paper, has just about as much talent as any team in the NFL.
It's time to show it because a 3-5 start would doom New Orleans' playoff chances and make for an awfully long flight back across the Atlantic.