- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Panthers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:
Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 18 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera wrapped up Monday's brief practice with a message for his team, which has won three straight and four of its past five games.
"Hey, enjoy it. This is how [winning] feels. This is what it's all about. But when we show up on Wednesday, it's all about Atlanta." the third-year coach said.
"We want to continue to maintain the situation ... we're in. We want to be relevant. Winning is the only way you can be that in this league."
The Panthers (4-3) are above the .500 mark for the first time since 2008 after their 31-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.
The win moved them up six spots to 12th in ESPN's weekly Power Rankings. That's 14 spots higher than they were before going on this mini winning streak and the biggest jump by any team over the past month.
And while Rivera felt the need to remind his players they haven't arrived, the players already were preaching that themselves.
"We just have to continue to keep meshing as a team, keep building off and keep getting momentum in these upcoming weeks because we are about to hit the meat of our schedule and we're going to need every single ounce of energy that we will have," quarterback Cam Newton said after the victory in Tampa.
"We have Atlanta coming up. We will celebrate and feel good about this win for just about a day, mend and heal right and come back ... and get prepared for Atlanta."