Panthers in the Power Rankings: Week 14

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Here's where the Panthers stand in various power rankings following their 26-20 loss to the Browns.

Panthers rank: 16th (8th in NFC)

Previous rank: 14th

NFC South: Saints 1st, Panthers 16th, Falcons 23rd, Buccaneers 24th

This week's opponent: Saints 1st

Beyond the numbers: So...what do the Panthers want for Christmas? Three straight wins (and losses by Minnesota and Washington), according to David Newton. Such a scenario would help position Carolina (6-7) to get into the playoffs as the sixth seed. Newton also mentions defensive consistency, but earning a win by any means on Monday night against New Orleans will mean a lot.

Panthers rank: 18th (8th in NFC)

Previous rank: 16th

NFC South: Saints 1st, Panthers 18th, Buccaneers 21st, Falcons 27th

This week's opponent: Saints 1st

Beyond the numbers: Frank Schwab puts it plain and simple: "The Panthers have had no luck in close games." Of their seven defeats, six have come by a touchdown or less, with Carolina having a chance to decide their fate with under two minutes remaining. As Schwab reiterates, had Carolina won even two of those six games, their shot at the playoffs would be much better. But, as Schwab also proclaims, "That’s how thin the margins are in the NFL."

Panthers rank: 20th (9th in NFC)

Previous rank: 16th

NFC South: Saints 2nd, Panthers 20th, Buccaneers 26th, Falcons 28th

This week's opponent: Saints 2nd

Beyond the numbers: Pete Prisco doesn't have high hopes for the remainder of Carolina's season, believing the Cleveland loss sealed its fate. It'll be hard, but not impossible for the Panthers to change that narrative.

Panthers rank: 21st (10th in NFC)

Previous rank: 15th

NFC South: Saints 1st, Panthers 21st, Buccaneers 22nd, Falcons 26th

This week's opponent: Saints 1st

Beyond the numbers: Carolina's 6-2 start kept them close to New Orleans early on, but, as the skid continues, that "nipping has turned into napping," writes the B/R staff. The Panthers must answer the bell with a win over New Orleans if they want to keep the postseason alive.

Panthers rank: 22nd (10th in NFC)

Previous rank: 16th

NFC South: Saints 1st, Panthers 22nd, Buccaneers 24th, Falcons 26th

This week's opponent: Saints 1st

Beyond the numbers: Elliot Harrison's assessment of Carolina highlighted well-publicized inconsistencies. "When the defensive backs get beaten for huge plays and/or (running back Christian) McCaffrey doesn't go off, bring on the losses," wrote Harrison. If the pass defense steps up like McCaffrey has been, maybe it's a different story this week.

A look at game day from start to finish through the lenses of team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez and second shooter Aaron Doster.

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