The Carolina Panthers are suffering from a little bit of "Iowa Syndrome" when it comes to their still-perfect 13-0 record. Plenty of pundits are more impressed with two-loss Arizona from the NFC, casting a sideways glance at Carolina while asking, "Yeah, but who have they played?"
The Panthers beat Seattle when the Seahawks were scuffling. They beat the Packers in the midst of their slide. Nothing else is close to dazzling.
But this much is true: You can only play the teams on your schedule. This much is also true: There's no such thing as an automatic win in the NFL. Be skeptical if you want, but 13-0 is 13-0.
A HORSE OF COURSE In an online poll of readers at SI.com, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah is the choice for Sportsman of the Year.
INEVITABLE Golden State's undefeated run ended in the second game of a back-to-back, after a two-overtime game and at the finish of a seven-game road trip.