The Panthers' slow journey back toward the national spotlight has begun -- although that journey could quickly be derailed if they lose a couple in a row.
Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell tells me that the Panthers-Bears game will now be broadcast to 25 percent of the country in the Sunday 1 p.m. time slot. That's up from 10 percent. The change came this week after the Panthers' and Bears' surprising wins over AFC powerhouses San Diego and Indianapolis, respectively, on Sunday.
And Fox Sports will send Pam Oliver to do a sitdown interview with Jake Delhomme this week in Charlotte that will result in a national feature on Delhomme to air Sunday on the Fox pregame show (noon to 1 p.m.) Bell said it will more likely air in the first 30 minutes of the show rather than the second.
That's just a trickle of national publicity, really, compared to what the Panthers have gotten before during their playoff runs (or compared to what East Carolina is rightfully getting now). The Panthers have become a very below-the-radar team in the last two years, however, and they are hardly on in prime time at all this season. It's understandable -- they've been a middle-of-the-road team without any superstars (not a single Pro Bowler in 2007).
It's worth noting, though, that a couple of the Panthers' late-season games in 2008 could be pushed into prime time if they continue to win. Not a likelihood by any means, but a possibility.
As for the announcers for Sunday, if you care about things like that, it's Sam Rosen on play-by-play, Tim Ryan on color analysis and Chris Myers from the sideline.