Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
It's Week 7, but it might as well be opening day for these teams.
You can make a case that the season starts Sunday for the Saints and the Panthers. Quarterback Drew Brees has done yeoman-like work to get the injury-riddled Saints to 3-3.
With a trip to London (the Saints will leave for Europe immediately after the game) and a game against the Chargers, the return to health couldn't come at a better time. The Saints survived the injury bug and have stayed very much in the playoff picture. With some of their stars coming back, the Saints need to start doing more than just surviving.
The Panthers seemed to be the class of the division until they went into Tampa Bay and got destroyed. Was that a one-game fluke or a sign of things to come? We'll see.
The Panthers, and especially coach John Fox, can't afford a third straight disappointing season.
There hasn't been a lot of certainty at quarterback, running back or wide receiver, but the Bucs keep winning.
The defense and the special teams deserve lots of credit, but the offense may be starting to click. Quarterback Jeff Garcia gets his second straight start since returning from his benching and that will give the offense some stability.
Earnest Graham is expected to return to tailback after filling in at fullback last week. he and Warrick Dunn give the Bucs a strong 1-2 punch. The Bucs still haven't done much in the vertical passing game, but that probably won't matter against the Seahawks.