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2021 NFL Power Rankings: Carolina Panthers

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Carolina Panthers rank in terms of average, best and worst:

Below you will find a Week 16 roundup for the Panthers in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 26

How hot is Matt Rhule's seat: 3. Warm seat

It could shift to the hot seat if the Panthers lose their next three to end on a seven-game skid and with only five wins for a second straight season under Rhule. Team owner David Tepper gave Rhule a seven-year deal because he knew the rebuild could take time, but expectations seemed to change after a 3-0 start. Ultimately, poor decisions at quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton) and with offensive coordinator Joe Brady have Rhule and his staff in a bind for the future. Tepper likely won't pull the plug this season, but the lack of improvement down the stretch over two straight campaigns might change that. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 28

This has turned into a Murphy's Law season for the Panthers: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. On Sunday in Buffalo, it was kicker Zane Gonzalez limping off the field after suffering a leg injury during pregame warmups. Carolina didn't need any extra challenges against a quality Buffalo opponent, and the resulting 31-14 loss could hardly be considered a surprise. Panthers fans who were thrilled to take their No. 1 jerseys out of storage should savor these last three games: Cam Newton's time with the Panthers is certain to conclude after Week 18. What other changes are in store in Charlotte?

CBS Sports -- Rank: 26

They just don't do enough on offense. The offseason should be spent fixing the line.

USA Today -- Rank: 27

No Carolina player had notched 11 sacks since 2017 ... until OLB Haason Reddick this year. With 23½ over the past two seasons, he should be a very attractive free agent in 2022.

The Athletic -- Rank: 26

Our gift to you: A big day for Cam Newton this week against the Buccaneers. The Panthers will play their final two games on the road (at New Orleans and at Tampa Bay), so this could be the last time Panthers fans get to see Newton in Charlotte. After the way the last few weeks have gone, it's hard to imagine a realistic scenario in which Newton is part of the Panthers' future quarterback plans. So, give him a nice ovation and maybe he can score a rushing touchdown or two and do the Superman celebration once more for old time's sake and get some closure on his career with Carolina.

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