TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The Carolina Panthers hosting the Arizona Cardinals was supposed to be a marquee matchup this Sunday.
It was slated as a featured game in the late afternoon time slot, a tantalizing rematch of last season's NFC championship game.
Then the Cardinals dropped three of their first five games. The Panthers fared even worse, losing four of their first five. On Oct. 12, the game time was moved up to 1 p.m. EDT, with Atlanta-Green Bay taking its place.
It was a by-product of two teams that figured to be top contenders for the NFC title now trying to revive their seasons. The Cardinals (3-3-1) are coming off a rare tie and the Panthers are 1-5 coming off a bye week.
"This team right now is in a totally different place than when we went over there last year for the championship, and hopefully we can go somewhere else for the championship," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "But this is next week's game, no more, no less. We've got to win."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it's surprising that neither team is the contender it was expected to be.