Panthers rank: 14th (8th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 2nd, Buccaneers 26th, Falcons 29th
Beyond the numbers: Carolina slipped one spot during the bye week. ESPN's David Newton says the Panthers are already a playoff contender, but the next three games will be the team's toughest test yet. According to Newton, if the Panthers can pull out wins in two of the three matchups, Carolina will go from playoff contender to Super Bowl contender.
Panthers rank: 13th (7th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 3rd, Falcons 27th, Buccaneers 28th
Beyond the numbers: Once again the bye week caused the Panthers to fall one spot in the rankings. Dan Hanzus said the Panthers' two biggest storylines were running back Christian McCaffrey's dominance and quarterback Cam Newton's extended absence, noting that the success of one may be contributing to the other.
Panthers rank: 15th (9th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 2nd, Buccaneers 23rd, Falcons 29th
Beyond the numbers: The Panthers actually rose one spot during the bye week, according to Bleacher Report's rankings this week. The B/R staff said that after the Panthers' slow start, they're now looking like the only team capable of contending with the Saints in the NFC South.
Panthers rank: 10th (6th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 26th, Falcons 29th
Beyond the numbers: The Panthers held strong at the No. 10 spot through the bye week, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Florio noted this week's matchup with the 49ers would reunite the two former NFC West division rivals, and would prove to be the Panthers biggest challenge of the year so far.
Panthers rank: 9th (6th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 27th, Falcons 30th
Beyond the numbers: CBS Sports dropped the Panthers one spot this week after the bye. Pete Prisco said quarterback Kyle Allen will be tested this week against a tough 49ers defense.