CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton is reminding everyone he can beat teams with his right arm.

Newton is viewed as perhaps the NFL’s best rushing quarterback, but this year he’s putting up Tom Brady-like numbers in the passing game for the unbeaten Carolina Panthers.

Newton has thrown for 3,402 yards and already shattered his career-high with 33 touchdown passes in 14 games. Only Brady, with 35, has thrown for more TD passes than Newton.

The Panthers’ QB has been on a tear of late with 18 touchdown passes in the last five games — including three five-TD games — and has the league’s sixth-best passer rating.

Newton won his fourth NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor this season on Wednesday after throwing for five TDs and leading the winning drive in the final minute to beat the New York Giants 38-35 this past weekend.

His success comes as no surprise to Coach Ron Rivera, who always felt the former Heisman Trophy winner had the arm strength and savvy to become an elite passer.

“Everybody is so surprised by his ability to throw the football, but when we studied him and looked at him while preparing for the (2011) draft, we came away saying, ‘Man, he can make all of the throws,'” Rivera said.

Newton’s NFL-best 40 combined touchdowns and the team’s 14-0 record have made him a leading candidate to earn league-MVP honors this season, a notion he quickly dismissed on Wednesday as being “irrelevant to me right now.”

He said his focus is on his return home to Atlanta on Sunday, where the Panthers can clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory or a tie.

 The NFL fined Panthers cornerback Josh Norman $26,044 for his role in several incidents involving Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants in Sunday’s game.

Norman was fined twice Wednesday in the amounts of $17,363 and $8,681.

BEARS: Running back Matt Forte said he still wants to return to the team next year for a ninth season at age 30 even though past attempts to get management interested have failed.

Forte said when his agent spoke to General Manager Ryan Pace, he was told talent evaluations needed to be made first.

Forte has gained 768 yards on 190 carries while catching 38 passes for 332 yards.

BRONCOS: Denver is sticking with Brock Osweiler. Coach Gary Kubiak informed the team Wednesday that Osweiler will make his sixth straight start Monday night against Cincinnati.

Peyton Manning hasn’t played since Nov. 15 because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Manning returned to practice last week but spent his two days on the field doing individual drills and running the scout team.

He didn’t practice Friday because of soreness.

BILLS: Mario Williams said the Bills’ personnel doesn’t fit Coach Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme, insisting he’s simply stating a fact and not intending to be critical.

The Bills’ top pass-rusher referred to how Buffalo’s defense has failed to play to its high-priced expectations this season.

“A scheme’s a scheme, but to say that it’s going to produce, we haven’t had the numbers,” Williams said. “There’s nobody saying anything that what (Ryan’s) doing is wrong. But for what’s out there, the personnel might not be the right personnel.”

Williams’ role has been a season-long issue, a key reason why Buffalo (6-8) is eliminated from playoff contention. Buffalo ranks 21st in yards allowed and 30th with 20 sacks.

Vikings: Running back Adrian Peterson says he’s confident he’ll play against the New York Giants despite a sprained left ankle.

Peterson didn’t practice Wednesday, and was listed on the injury report with a shoulder issue as well, but said he’ll be fine Sunday.

The NFL rushing leader was hurt in the second quarter last week against Chicago, returning for six carries in the second half.

CHIEFS: Linebacker Tamba Hali broke his right thumb in Sunday’s game in Baltimore and had surgery this week, though the Pro Bowl selection has not been ruled out for their game against Cleveland.

Saints: Coach Sean Payton said that it remains unclear whether quarterback Drew Brees will play against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Brees injured his right foot in Monday night’s loss to Detroit, but never missed a snap.