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Panthers in the power rankings before Week 15

NFC South: Saints 3rd, Buccaneers 12th, Falcons 23rd

ANALYSIS: "Teddy Bridgewater delivered an uneven performance in a 32-27 loss to the Broncos, and it remains unclear with three weeks remaining in the season if the Panthers have their long-term option installed under center. Bridgewater has mixed high and low moments in Carolina; in his defense, he's played virtually the entire season without superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, who missed yet another week due to a quad issue. With the 4-9 Panthers headed toward a top 10-pick in the draft, the organization approaches a fork in the road: Ride with Bridgewater and build around the veteran -- or draft a QB and start over at the game's most important position. Hmmmm ..."

NFC South: Saints 5th, Buccaneers 12th, Falcons 26th

ANALYSIS: "Let's simplify this. The Panthers have scored 30 or more points three times, and two of those were with Christian McCaffrey. The running back has played only three games, so when you look at what has happened offensively, it begins with being without the best multipurpose player in the NFL. That has also been a factor in the team's failure to convert seven game-winning or tying drives. More McCaffrey likely equals more points, more wins and less stress on an undermanned defense."

NFC South: Saints 5th, Buccaneers 9th, Falcons 26th

ANALYSIS: "They come off their bye with a bad showing at home against the Broncos. The defense let them down after showing some improvement before the bye."

Pro Football Talk
NFC South: Saints 4th, Buccaneers 12th, Falcons 18th

ANALYSIS: "With a losing season guaranteed, they should embrace the chance to enhance their draft standing."

NFC South: Saints 4th, Buccaneers 11th, Falcons 29th

ANALYSIS: "After starting the year 3-2, the Carolina Panthers have only one win over their last eight games.

The Carolina defense is a mess. Facing a quarterback in Drew Lock whom no one will confuse with John Elway any time soon, the Panthers allowed four touchdown passes, including scoring strikes of 37 and 49 yards.

But the even bigger problem is on offense, and it isn't the absence of running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver DJ Moore.

Teddy Bridgewater isn't a bad quarterback, but he isn't an especially good one, either. As has been the case for most of the season, Bridgewater either wouldn't test the Broncos defense over the top or couldn't. He didn't throw a touchdown pass against Denver and averaged only 7.1 yards per passing attempt.

Given Carolina's financial commitment to Bridgewater, he isn't going anywhere. The 28-year-old will all but certainly be the Panthers starter in 2021.

And the Panthers will likely be then what they are now: an also-ran looking up at the Buccaneers and Saints in the NFC South."

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