CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers fans are counting down the minutes to Sunday s season opener in Charlotte against the Seattle Seahawks.

Fans expectations are high and they want the team to make the playoffs, something the Panthers haven t done since 2008.

The opener is enough to make grown men and women act like kids in candy stores.

It's my favorite day of the year, every year, said Paul Buckshon from Mooresville.

The opener is enough to make men and women act like kids at Christmas, watching this year's shiniest, newest toys that double as jerseys drenched in sweat and grass stains.

You go a whole year almost without football, so the first game is always fun, said Matt Barwick from Raleigh.

Step into Bank of America Stadium Friday afternoon and you're in Pat Claiborne's playground, while she leads stadium tours.

Where are you from? Claiborne asks the crowd.

She loves peppering people with questions, especially those wearing jerseys.
Did you fall in love with the Panthers before we acquired Cam? she asked a man wearing a Cam Newton jersey.

Team history is her specialty.

(The) longest pass thrown in a Super Bowl, 85 yards, Delhomme to Moose, that record has not been broken.

But that was 10 years ago.

Fans say enough time has passed since that, and 2008's last playoff appearance - that getting back to the playoffs is their measure of a successful season.

Hopefully this will be a Super Bowl year, said fan Daniel Ward.

This Sunday's game against Seattle brought Panthers Fan, Adam Kelley, to Charlotte all the way from Orlando. His aunt is flying in from the west coast.

She's a Seattle Seahawks fan, so we have a little family rivalry going on this weekend, Kelley said.

The Burger Company, just down the road from the stadium, says 'Panthers equal profits'.
Owner David Smith says the restaurant made its most money ever on a single day - after three and a half years in business from the Panthers last home preseason game

This Sunday, the games count.

Everybody is ready to go.

This is going to be the year, Buckson said.

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