Where do the Carolina Panthers sit in the national NFL power rankings ahead of their Week 2 clash against the New Orleans Saints?
The Carolina Panthers made things much tougher for themselves in Week 1 against the New York Jets than it should have been.
A 19-14 victory could – and perhaps should – have been more convincing, especially considering the dominance portrayed by Phil Snow’s defensive unit throughout.
It’s all part of the learning curve. And it’s worth remembering that things will obviously get better the more familiar they become with the scheme and each other.
However, some preseason concerns and ongoing difficulties from the previous campaign reared their head to such an extent that massive improvements are needed if they want to topple the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday.
This was dubbed as the Sam Darnold revenge game. But the quarterback held things together well, got the ball out quickly, and made some high-quality throws in crucial situations to give the Panthers a commanding halftime lead they never relinquished.
Nobody is kidding themselves. Much more will be needed to keep this team trending in the right direction.
But we’ll get a better scope of just where Carolina stacks in the NFC South and in terms of any playoff aspirations they might have this weekend.
Ahead of Sunday’s game versus the Saints, we took a look at where the Panthers stand in the national power rankings across the league.
Carolina Panthers in the NFL power rankings ahead of Week 2.
FanSided’s national NFL reporter Matt Verderame has the Panthers sitting at No. 22 in his weekly rankings – a rise of one spot – highlighting Darnold’s good performance as a reason to be encouraged moving forward.
"“It’s the Jets, but Sam Darnold looked good, the defense was terrific and the weapons are there.”"
CBS Sports surged Carolina up five places to No. 23, which came in no small part to their happiness at seeing running back Christian McCaffrey returning and looking better than ever.
"“They did some good things in beating the Jets, but they have to be better than that going forward. It sure has to be good to have Christian McCaffrey back running the football.”"
The Bleacher Report was less impressed with the Panthers’ opening day victory and kept them at No. 26, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk giving Carolina their highest ranking of the week nationally at No. 20 – an increase of four positions from his previous list.
If the Panthers can get one over on their NFC South rivals this weekend and go to 2-0, they might be seen as a more legitimate force.
However, as Verderame stated, it was only the Jets they came up against in Week 1.
Carolina is currently 3.5-point underdogs for the contest according to WynnBET’s latest odds. But the Saints will be missing some key starters and a number of coaches also tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
At least from the outside looking in, this represents a fine opportunity for the Panthers to make a statement. Putting it all together on the field is another matter entirely.