Mixed bag for the Panthers in power rankings ahead of Week 8

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /

Thursday, October 29. 8.20 PM ET. 1-6. 44. FOX/NFL Network/Amazon. 3-4. 87. Panthers -3

Where do the Carolina Panthers find themselves in the national power rankings ahead of their Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons?

It was another case of the one that got away for the Carolina Panthers in their 27-24 loss at the New Orleans Saints. Fine margins eventually cost them what would have been a notable victory against a Super Bowl contender, but they can still take plenty of positives from the clash.

Next up is another divisional matchup against the lowly Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. The Carolina Panthers already have one win over their rival and go into their latest contest on Thursday Night Football as a slight favorite.

Carolina will still need to be wary of the threat posed by the Falcons. Their level of performance has improved since getting rid of head coach Dan Quinn and they can score on anybody with plenty of devastating weapons on offense.

With the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up over the next fortnight, it is imperative that the Panthers pick up some momentum leading into these testing fixtures. Let’s take a look at where Carolina ended up in the national power rankings ahead of Week 8.

Carolina Panthers in the power rankings ahead of Week 8.

The guys at NFL.com were impressed by what they saw from the Panthers, keeping them at No. 19 on their list. They labeled their loss in New Orleans as a “what-if” game that in all honesty could have gone either way. But they clearly remain impressed with the direction in which they’re going in under the new coaching staff.

"“Carolina’s ability to go punch for punch with the Saints in the Superdome reinforces what we already knew: Matt Rhule’s team is well-coached and well-populated with playmakers who can make things happen, even with Christian McCaffrey’s lingering absence.”"

ESPN also liked what they saw from the Panthers despite another narrow loss. They moved Carolina up one spot to No. 17 but highlighted the need for their tight end, Ian Thomas, to step up in the face of some stern competition in the coming weeks.

In moving them down two places to No. 19, CBS Sports claimed the Panthers have now “come back down to earth” following consecutive defeats, with Pro Football Talk not ruling out a run at the seventh seed in the NFC despite also moving them down two spots to No. 19 in their rankings.

The Bleacher Report was a little more enthusiastic after Carolina’s loss, moving them up one to No. 18. They did say the Panthers are better than many expected, but just how good that makes them is another matter entirely.

"“The team has at least been keeping games close. Only two of the Panthers games have been decided by double digits (one loss, one win), and only one was decided by more than 10.”"

The writers at NBC Sports have Carolina at No. 19 on their latest rankings, simply stating that Rhule must be glad he opted to take the Panthers job over a position with the New York Jets following the 2019 season.

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This is probably where the Panthers should be at this juncture. They are playing well and exceeding expectations. But with certain positional groups currently failing them, it remains to be seen just how far this current group can go in 2020.