The Carolina Panthers became winners of three straight – and four of their last five – with last Thursday's 31-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ron Rivera's team has now overcome an 0-2 start to climb above .500 (4-3) for the first time since 2008.
Although the Panthers' four victories have come by a combined margin of 96 points, they have also come against teams with a combined 5-23 record.
Here's how the Panthers currently sit in the Power Rankings:
ESPN.com – 12th (Last Week 18th)
"Cam Newton has been awesome lately. Newton's 88.2 Total QBR in the past three games is third best in that span, even if it came against the Vikings, Rams and Bucs."
See full rankings from ESPN.com here.
CBSSports.com: 13th (Last Week 14th)
"Winning three consecutive games is impressive, but now comes a tough stretch to prove they are playoff worthy: Atlanta, San Francisco and New England."
See full rankings from CBSSports.com here.
FOXSports.com: 14th (Last Week 22nd)
"The Panthers are now over .500 for the first time since 2008 and have won eight of their last 11. That's the sixth-best winning percentage during that span."
See full rankings from FOXSports.com here.
ProFootballTalk.com: 13th (Last Week 17th)
"We’ll believe in the Panthers once they prove that they can deal with adversity."
See full rankings from ProFootballTalk.com here.
NFL.com: 12th (Last Week 14th)
"Carolina's defense sure looks the part. Through seven games, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's group has balled out, allowing 13.7 points per contest. While Cam Newton is receiving much pub for the Panthers' recent mini-run — they've won four of their last five — the defense is what could push this team past the Lions or Packers for the NFC's sixth seed. Thinking Ron Rivera's seat might now be air-conditioned."
Power Rankings Summary
- Highest Ranking: 12th
- Lowest Ranking: 14th
- Composite Ranking: 12.8
What's the Consensus?
The Panthers' resounding nationally televised victory over the Buccaneers has, at the very least, compelled NFL pundits to acknowledge the team's three-game winning streak – even if the opposition has been subpar.
Carolina was ranked as high as 22nd and as low as 14th in Week 8's power rankings. In Week 9, the disparity has diminished significantly. The general consensus is that Carolina's push over .500 is good enough to move them into the top half of the rankings. While Cam Newton and the defense have been extremely impressive as of late, the Panthers will ultimately have to prove themselves against elite competition (San Francisco, New England, New Orleans) if they are going to crack the top 10.
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