With Week 6 of the NFL season here, it's put-up or shut-up time for several NFL teams.
The Bengals and Panthers are two teams looking to take the next step after winning their respective divisions in 2013, but were ousted in their opening playoff game.
Both teams lost far more than they gained this offseason. Cincinnati lost both of its coordinators, as well as star defensive end Michael Johnson and starting offense lineman Anthony Collins.
The Panthers lost three starters on their o-line to go with the greatest receiver that's ever played for the franchise in Steve Smith.
Regardless, both teams returned several promising young stars on both sides of the ball, leading many to believe both teams were ready to win their respective divisions again.
The Panthers are to a decent start at 3-2 and coming off a comeback-win over the Bears. The Bengals have just one loss at 3-1, but their 43-17 thrashing at the hands of the Patriots felt like two losses.
Now, the two teams square off in Cincinnati in Week 6 looking for a win that would keep the winner on top of their respective divisions. Meanwhile, the loser could fall back as low as third in their division.
Entering this game, both teams will have to overcome several injuries to key players. Carolina could be without their two best running backs in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
The Bengals will almost certainly be without All-Pro receiver AJ Green, as well as fellow starter Marvin Jones.
No one cares. When you compete at the highest level as a team, you're expected to overcome injuries to key players (outside of QB), and both teams will have to fight through their losses to claim victory in a big game for both squads.
Whoever wins this week will take the next step towards not only reclaiming their division, but perhaps winning in the postseason as well.