Panthers in the power rankings before bye week

NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 9th, Falcons 18th

ANALYSIS: "Jeremy Chinn scored on fumble returns on consecutive plays from scrimmage in the third quarter. Dalvin Cook was held to just 3.4 yards per carry. Carolina had the lead and the ball inside the Vikings' 10-yard line with less than two minutes to play. But in the end, all of those positives weren't enough to stave off defeat, a dramatic 28-27 setback that effectively eliminated the Panthers from postseason contention. Teddy Bridgewater didn't exactly light it up in his Minnesota homecoming, but hang this loss on a defense that surrendered 18 points in the fourth quarter and allowed Kirk Cousins to march 75 yards in just 65 seconds for the game-winning touchdown. The Panthers are either the best bad team or the worst good team in football. Whatever they are, it won't be enough to extend their season beyond Week 17."

NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 8th, Falcons 21st

ANALYSIS: "Most important game remaining: Week 14 vs. Denver

In other words, the next game coming off the bye. It's important because it will show how the players and staff bounce back from a fourth-quarter collapse in Sunday's 28-27 loss to Minnesota that all but ended any hopes of a playoff berth. It's important because realistically it might be the only winnable game left on the schedule, with Green Bay, Washington and New Orleans after that. All three of those teams will be fighting for a playoff spot. It's also important because it likely will mark the return of running back Christian McCaffrey (shoulder) and set the tone for 2021."

NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 11th, Falcons 20th

ANALYSIS: "That was a tough loss at Minnesota, but that defense is starting to come together. That unit will be nasty in a year or so."

Pro Football Talk
NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 13th, Falcons 18th

ANALYSIS: "Matt Rhule definitely didn't earn his curve-blowing salary on Sunday."

NFC South: Saints 4th, Buccaneers 8th, Falcons 23rd

ANALYSIS: "The Carolina Panthers will finally get their bye week in Week 13.

They will spend it wondering how things got away from them Sunday in Minnesota.

After scoring two defensive touchdowns in the span of 10 seconds early in the second half, the Panthers appeared to be cruising against the Vikings. Minnesota came charging back, but a muffed punt led to a field goal that put Carolina up six with less than two minutes to play.

However, the Vikings roared down the field and scored, and Joey Slye's late field-goal attempt sailed wide as time expired. It was a contest filled with squandered opportunities for the Panthers, which largely sums up their disappointing first season under head coach Matt Rhule.

With the postseason now looking like a pipe dream, there's little reason for the Panthers to bring injured running back Christian McCaffrey back this season. At this point, victories will only cost them draft position in 2021."

View the best pictures behind-the-scenes from Carolina's Week 12 game at Minnesota.

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