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

ESPN -- Rank: 12

Biggest surprise: QB Sam Darnold

Why it's a surprise: If anyone said they predicted before the season that Darnold would lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns (five) through four weeks, they would have been lying. Darnold had only five rushing touchdowns in three seasons with the Jets. He wasn't considered a running threat. But teams are leaving lanes open, and Darnold is taking advantage. These aren't quarterback sneaks. These are read-options or QB draw-type plays (credit OC Joe Brady) that Carolina was used to seeing Cam Newton run. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 14

The Panthers took their first loss of the season because of a disastrous third quarter in Dallas. Carolina went into the tunnel up 14-13 at the half, but was outscored 20-0 over the next 15 minutes of game time. The Cowboys' defense rattled Sam Darnold by shifting to a blitz-heavy scheme that produced a long field-goal miss, a three-and-out, then back-to-back Trevon Diggs interceptions. Darnold and the offense did well to battle back in the fourth quarter with two touchdown drives, but Dallas successfully ran out the clock with its power running game. One brutal quarter aside, the Panthers acquitted themselves well against a high-quality opponent. No need to panic.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 12

After suffering their first loss of the season against Dallas, they get five consecutive games against teams currently with one victory each. That's a soft schedule and a way to get back on track.

USA Today -- Rank: 12

Probably not a bad thing they got a reality check from Dallas. But Carolina still in position to craft itself a welcome reality given its next five games are all against teams that are currently 1-3.

The Athletic -- Rank: 15

Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott, step aside for the league's leader in rushing touchdowns ... Sam Darnold, somehow. Enjoy the lead while you can, Sam, because it sounds like Christian McCaffrey will be back soon. Even after its setback in Dallas, things are looking good for Carolina -- only one of the Panthers' next nine opponents has a winning record.

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