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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 4 roundup for the Panthers in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 12

If there were a comeback player of the year for somebody who wasn't injured that previous season, Sam Darnold would have a big head start. He has gone from the worst total QBR (41.4) over the past three seasons with the Jets to No. 6 so far this season. He has completed 68.2% of his passes, way up from his league-worst 59.8% in New York. He has thrown three touchdowns to only one interception and has three rushing touchdowns, two fewer than he had from 2018 to 2020. According to recently traded tight end Dan Arnold, now with the Jaguars, Darnold is playing at a "premier level," a level that could continue. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 13

"We're a football team. We're not the Carolina Christian McCaffreys." Panthers left tackle Cameron Erving struck a tone of defiance after McCaffrey exited Thursday night's win over the Texans with a hamstring injury that will likely cost him multiple weeks. The Panthers took advantage of a soft schedule to jump to a 3-0 start, but they enter the teeth of their slate without their superstar running back or rookie first-round pick Jaycee Horn, who broke multiple bones in his foot against Houston. Carolina addressed the secondary loss with a bold trade on Monday, sending tight end Dan Arnold and a third-round pick to the Jaguars for cornerback C.J. Henderson, last year's ninth overall pick.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 9

They haven't exactly lit up a murderous schedule, but 3-0 is 3-0. The injuries have to be a concern, especially with Christian McCaffrey down for a bit and Jaycee Horn down for longer - maybe the season.

USA Today -- Rank: 11

Reminder that the wife of Panthers coach Matt Rhule urged him to draft RB Chuba Hubbard when he dropped to the fourth round of this year's draft. (Julie Rhule was well aware of Hubbard's ability after watching him play against her husband's Baylor squad in 2019.) With Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey out for an indefinite period, Julie Rhule's advice now seems especially sage.

The Athletic -- Rank: 14

Surprise! D.J. Moore was already trending toward becoming one of the NFL's top receivers, but that doesn't make his quick chemistry with Sam Darnold any less impressive. Moore's 16 receptions for a first down are tied for second in the NFL -- one behind Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce -- and his 285 receiving yards rank eighth. Carolina will need Moore to continue to put up elite numbers to make up for Christian McCaffrey's absence.

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