Panthers suffer slight shift in national power rankings ahead of Week 5

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

The Carolina Panthers didn’t move that much in the national NFL power rankings despite their Week 4 loss at the Dallas Cowboys.

Every team tastes defeat at some stage during the season. The Carolina Panthers are not exempt from this and their humbling loss at the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 was a strong indicator of just how much more is needed for the team to enter legitimate Super Bowl contention moving forward.

How the Panthers bounce back upon their return to Bank of America Stadium in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles will be crucial. This seems like a winnable game in the grand scheme of things, but the NFC East team shouldn’t be written off despite their current 1-3 record.

There is an enormous sense of positivity across the organization after Carolina traded for All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who could make his debut in Week 7 against the New York Giants if his recovery from a torn quad remains on schedule.

The move is further proof that the Panthers feel confident in their chances of making a splash this season. But where do the national MFL media rank them following their opening loss of the campaign?

Carolina Panthers in the power rankings ahead of Week 5

FanSided’s national NFL reporter Matt Verderame stood pat with the Panthers at No. 16 in his rankings, highlighting that perception of Carolina’s defense may have altered after their Week 4 reverse.

"“A first loss doesn’t move them down the rankings. Carolina’s offense played well, but the defense was exposed against a good Dallas team.”"

The guys over at dropped the Panthers just one spot in their standings to No. 14 thanks to what they rightfully described as a “disastrous” third quarter at the Cowboys, with ESPN keeping Carolina at No. 12 even though they were second best for most of the game in Dallas.

Carolina fell out of the top-10 in CBS Sports‘ weekly rankings following a three-spot demotion to No. 12. The Bleacher Report also dropped the Panthers’ one position to No. 13.

A defensive collapse was the issue on Sports Illustrated‘s mind after the Panthers fell one place to No. 15 in their rankings, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk placing Carolina at No. 12.

"“The arrow is still pointing up. Just not as far.”"

Although the rankings differ slightly, the consensus opinion is almost the same.

It was a tough loss for the Panthers. But not exactly the end of the world.

Just how much this affects their hopes over the next few games will come largely down to the character within the locker room and what adjustments the coaching staff can make in pursuit of avoiding similar complications.

That’s been one of the main criticisms of Matt Rhule since taking up the job. And lack of experience factor can no longer be portrayed.

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There is little doubt the Panthers are heading in the right direction and the recent moves they’ve made indicate as much. But this is the first time they’ve faced any sort of adversity this season and it will be interesting to see how each individual player responds.