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

ESPN -- Rank: 17

Injuries are an easy excuse for when things go bad, but they really are a factor in Carolina going from 3-0 to 3-3. Statistics show how drastically the loss of running back Christian McCaffrey has impacted quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense. But equally as big to the defense was losing cornerback Jaycee Horn and linebacker Shaq Thompson. They are two first-round picks who play a big role and aren't easily replaceable. The sack and pressure numbers have suffered greatly without them. Without the three players mentioned here, the confidence rating should be lower than I have it. -- David Newton

NFL.com -- Rank: 19

The Panthers appear to have a Sam Darnold problem. Darnold showed promise during Carolina's 3-0 start, but the absence of Christian McCaffrey has coincided with an extended stretch of rough play by the fourth-year QB. Darnold deserves credit for leading the Panthers to 11 unanswered points to force overtime in Sunday's loss to the Vikings, but he was deeply ineffective before those final two drives. Darnold threw an interception, lost a fumble and didn't cross 100 yards passing until the 6:30 mark of the fourth quarter. On Monday, Matt Rhule acknowledged Darnold needed to be better and declared the Panthers' days as an air-it-out offense are over. "We're going to redefine who we are," he said. "That's the only way we can win." Yikes.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 18

Sam Darnold has been ordinary the past few weeks, opening up the talk again that they need a quarterback to build around. He's struggled the past few weeks.

USA Today -- Rank: 15

After allowing 573 yards over the first three weeks, Carolina's defense got torched for 571 by Minnesota on Sunday.

The Athletic -- Rank: 18

Rookie Heat Check: First-round cornerback Jaycee Horn is hoping to make a late-season return to the Panthers' lineup after suffering three broken bones in his foot against the Texans in Week 3. With All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey still working through a nagging hamstring injury, fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard will have a chance to make a bigger impact until the starter returns.

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