Where do Panthers start across pre-Week 1 power rankings?

We’re now just a handful of days away from watching the Carolina Panthers embark on their journey into the 2022 regular season. But where does that journey start?

Let’s take a look at where the team ranks across numerous sets of pre-Week power rankings.

NFL.com

AP Photo/Nell Redmond

Author: Dan Hanzus

Rank: 23

Take: “Three seasons ago, Christian McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year. He was a sensation, and it appeared the Panthers had their superstar successor to Cam Newton. Two lost seasons later, and it’s now fair to ask if McCaffrey can still be counted on to be the offensive focal point. The good news: McCaffrey still hasn’t suffered any catastrophic lower-body injuries, and he looked like the same dominant player when he did manage to hit the field in 2020 and 2021. With some better injury luck, McCaffrey still has the potential to be a first-team All-Pro type of producer. It’s a reality that could change everything for Baker Mayfield and this offense.”

Sports Illustrated

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Author: MMQB staff

Rank: 24

Take: “Enter Baker Mayfield, and suddenly this Panthers season looks a lot spicier and more interesting. We’ll see if that translates to more wins.”

CBS Sports

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Author: Pete Prisco

Rank: 24

Take: “It’s all about Baker Mayfield at quarterback. They made the move to go get him, which was the smart thing to do. If he plays well they could be a playoff team.”

Yahoo Sports

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Author: Frank Schwab

Rank: 25

Take: “The Panthers wasted a lot of time before naming Baker Mayfield their starting quarterback. Mayfield should be an upgrade for the passing game, and as long as the Panthers are healthy they should be a tough out. A Week 1 game against Cleveland will be telling.”

Sporting News

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Author: Vinnie Iyer

Rank: 28

Take: “Baker Mayfield cleans up quarterback a bit, but there are still questions about Matt Rhule’s archaic approach of wanting to run oft-injury Christian McCaffrey into the ground and thinking about the passing game beyond McCaffrey later. The Panthers’ defense is not good enough to cash in often on that formula.”

Pro Football Talk

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Author: Mike Florio

Rank: 23

Take: “They’ve got the talent to compete. Which will only make the seat even hotter for the coaching staff.”

Pro Football Focus

Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Author: Sam Monson

Rank: 29

Take: “The Panthers may have done well to emerge from the draft with a rookie quarterback without spending the sixth overall pick on him, but that still leaves a starting battle between Sam Darnold and a player the rest of the NFL didn’t want for over 90 picks. Matt Corral ran a very RPO-heavy offense in college (over 40% of snaps), so his ability to translate to the NFL is a big unknown. Overall, Carolina made some nice moves this offseason, but its quarterback situation could be crippling.”

The Ringer

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Author: Austin Gayle

Rank: 25

Take: “The Panthers defense is young and talented, but everything else isn’t. Baker Mayfield is an obvious upgrade over the failed Sam Darnold experiment, but Mayfield’s arrival likely comes too late to save Carolina from blowing everything up after this season. Head coach Matt Rhule got into this mess by botching the quarterback position ever since his arrival in Carolina in 2020, from the bloated Teddy Bridgewater contract to the Darnold trade and Cam Newton’s return last season. The Panthers offense ranked 29th in points, 32nd in yards per play, and 30th in EPA per play with Darnold and Newton both starting multiple games for the team in 2021. It’ll be very difficult for Mayfield to be much worse, but don’ t be surprised if Rhule, the betting favorite (+300) for first coach fired this season, doesn’t reap the rewards from the improvement.”

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Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire

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