CHARLOTTE - Follow five media outlets throughout the season as their writers update their NFL power rankings, presented by Daimler Trucks North America.
ANALYSIS: "The Panthers took their first loss of the season because of a disastrous third quarter in Dallas. Carolina went into the tunnel up 14-13 at the half but was outscored 20-0 over the next 15 minutes of game time. The Cowboys' defense rattled Sam Darnold by shifting to a blitz-heavy scheme that produced a long field-goal miss, a three-and-out, then back-to-back Trevon Diggs interceptions. Darnold and the offense did well to battle back in the fourth quarter with two touchdown drives, but Dallas successfully ran out the clock with its power running game. One brutal quarter aside, the Panthers acquitted themselves well against a high-quality opponent. No need to panic."
ANALYSIS: "If anyone said they predicted before the season that Darnold would lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns (five) through four weeks, they would have been lying. Darnold had only five rushing touchdowns in three seasons with the Jets. He wasn't considered a running threat. But teams are leaving lanes open and Darnold is taking advantage. These aren't quarterback sneaks. These are read-options or QB draw-type plays (credit OC Joe Brady) that Carolina was used to seeing Cam Newton run."
ANALYSIS: "After suffering their first loss of the season against Dallas, they get five consecutive games against teams currently with one victory each. That's a soft schedule and a way to get back on track."
ANALYSIS: "The Carolina Panthers were one of the league's more surprising teams over the season's first three weeks, riding excellent play from quarterback Sam Darnold and a stifling defense to a perfect record.
However, that 3-0 start came against teams that are .500 or below a month into the season. Sunday's trip to Dallas was both Carolina's stiffest test to date and the team's first game without star running back Christian McCaffrey, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
He was missed.
Carolina's lack of offensive balance wasn't the only reason the Panthers suffered their first loss of the season. Head coach Matt Rhule told reporters he wasn't pleased with any facet of the game in Week 4.
"Our rush defense has been our sort of calling card," he said. "We were not able to stop the run today, were not able to get to the quarterback, were not able to take the ball away and our offense turned the ball over."
The setback was unfortunate, but it should also be temporary. Carolina's next four opponents have combined to win four games this year.
ANALYSIS: "The Panthers’ previously top-ranked defense collapsed against the Cowboys, giving up a whopping 245 rushing yards after not allowing more than 50 in any of their first three games of the season. If the 3–0 start was a sign the Panthers are heading in the right direction, this game was a marker they are not there yet."
Carolina is 5-7 all-time against Philadelphia, including record-setting fourth-quarter comeback in 2018 and a win in the 2003 NFC Championship game.