Panthers News: Bryce Young, Justin Houston, Steve Smith and power rankings

Delving deeper into the latest Carolina Panthers news and rumors from around the media.

Justin Houston
Justin Houston / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers remain bottom of ESPN's power rankings

It was just one victory, but it meant a lot. The Carolina Panthers dug deep to put a severe dent into the Atlanta Falcons' hopes of winning the NFC South in Week 15. This also resulted in Arthur Smith announcing second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder had been benched in favor of Taylor Heinicke.

This didn't move the Panthers from No. 32 in ESPN's power rankings. When discussing one of the more glaring numbers throughout the campaign, beat writer David Newton highlighted a jaw-dropping statistic that perfectly depicts the team's struggles this season. Specifically, running zero plays with a fourth-quarter lead.

"The number is 0. This is how the team has an NFL-worst record. It's an odd stat because both of Carolina's wins, including Sunday against Atlanta, came on walk-off field goals. The Panthers also are tied for first in successful two-point conversions (2-for-2; 100%), but having no plays with the lead in the fourth quarter pretty much sums up this season."

David Newton, ESPN

This is an astonishing statistic. Especially considering how Carolina's defense has held its own more often than not in difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, the offense hasn't lived up to expectations.

If the Panthers can beat the Green Bay Packers on Christmas Eve, they'll likely move from the basement at long last. It'll also improve their chances of avoiding the embarrassment of handing the No. 1 overall pick to the Chicago Bears.