CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have had some time to reflect on that 21-20 NFC South Division Clinching victory Sunday in Atlanta and they aren't satisfied yet. Carolina is eyeing a run at the big prize, a Super Bowl title.
"It is most certainly one of the goals that you set for yourself and your team as you go forward, but there's a lot more work left," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera Monday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
Rivera added, "I'm very happy for this team, coaches, players and the organization itself, but by no means are we where we need to be as a team."
After a 1-3 start to the season, the Panthers won 11 of their last 12 games, including an eight-game winning streak. It's a big reason that Carolina isn't preparing for a road game right now and can watch Wild card Weekend, knowing that their next game will be at home, where this team went 7-1 during the regular season.
That means the Panthers only need to win one game to reach the NFC Championship.
Coach Rivera expected this team to be where it is right now when he took over in 2011.
"I feel fortunate to be where I am today. It's where I believed and envisioned where we needed to be at this point in my tenure. I talked to players when I first got the job about where we can be," Rivera stated, "I believe we can win it all, I believe we can win the Super Bowl."
Rivera says he saw his team do a lot of maturing during the season.
"I think there's a resilience that they have. I think they have the confidence to go into the fourth quarter and believe they can get it done… I have confidence in them that they can go into halftime and figure out what it takes to win a game."
That next big game will be Sunday, January 12, at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers opponent is still yet to be determined. It could be Philadelphia, who won the NFC East Title Sunday night. The Eagles are 10-6 on the season and will face New Orleans Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field in one of the NFC Wild card Weekend Match ups.
If the Saints beat the Eagles, then Carolina would get the winner of the San Francisco/Green Bay match up. The unknown factor will make for an interesting few weeks of preparation, but the Panthers will be ready to go for that second round home game.
"We'll have our cut ups and breakdowns ready to go, said Rivera, "We'll have a couple of periods to prepare for what we potentially could see and be ready to adjust and handle those."
The Panthers have not faced the Packers this season. Carolina fared well against San Francisco during the regular season. The Panthers won at Candlestick Park back in Week 10 by a 10-9 final.