If the Panthers lose today, everything changes. The enthusiasm and optimism engendered by Carolina's close losses will fade. To sustain credibility there are games a team has to win, and this is one of them.
Close losses to opponents that are supposed to beat you are understandable and even acceptable. But for the second time this season the Panthers are favored.
Beat Washington today and, with Minnesota coming to Charlotte next week, there's evidence the Panthers are on their way back.
Lose and they're 1-6.