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

ESPN -- Rank: 12

Most improved player: WR DJ Moore

How they've improved: Consistency is the biggest difference. Moore had an outstanding 2020 season, but his catch rate (66 of 118) was only 55.9%, and he had only four receiving touchdowns. His catch rate this year is 70% (35 of 50), and he already has three receiving touchdowns. He has become Sam Darnold's favorite target, not Robby Anderson, as some expected. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 14

Christian McCaffrey returned to practice last week -- now the Panthers need their superstar RB back on Sundays. The Carolina offense sputtered again in a frustrating loss to the Eagles that featured three Sam Darnold interceptions and pass-protection issues that we didn't see before No. 22 exited with a hamstring injury in Week 3. Such is the importance of McCaffrey, a driving force in both the running and passing games. He seems especially essential to Darnold, whose turnover-prone ways have returned without his safety valve sliding out of the backfield. "Sam needs to take what's given him," Matt Rhule said. "If we do that, we'll get back on track quickly."

CBS Sports -- Rank: 15

Two straight losses has them reeling a bit. The offense didn't do much against the Eagles, which is a concern. They need Christian McCaffrey back.

USA Today -- Rank: 12

OLB Haason Reddick, who exploded for a career-high 12 1/2 sacks last year for Arizona, was one of this offseason's shrewdest free agent signings. Rookie GM Scott Fitterer landed Reddick for $6 million in 2021, and he's already responded with an NFC-high 6 1/2 sacks.

The Athletic -- Rank: 14

Breakout player: Can we consider someone who has already had two seasons with more than 1,200 all-purpose yards a breakout candidate? Yes. And we will. Because this is our Power Rankings and we can do what we want. DJ Moore fits here because he's on the cusp of becoming a true No. 1 receiver (even though he's not paid like it on his own team, cough, cough, Robby Anderson). Through five games, Moore is fourth in the league in catches (35), behind only clear high-target wide receivers like Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill and Keenan Allen. He needs one more touchdown catch to match his season high (4).

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