Panthers dip in power rankings after Week 9 loss to Patriots

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The Carolina Panthers, one week after a solid step back up, stumbled again in their Week 9 loss to the New England Patriots. Let’s see how far this latest trip has sent them down the power rankings.

USA TODAY

Author: Nate Davis
Rank: 26 (-1)
Author’s take: “So after all the optimism surrounding QB Sam Darnold’s fresh start and early season performance, he’s now tied for the league lead with 11 INTs while sporting a career-worst 71.3 passer rating … which is saying something.”

Touchdown Wire

Author: Nick Wojton
Rank: 23 (-4)
Author’s take: “The Patriots’ success against Panthers QB Sam Darnold continued from his time in the AFC East. Darnold isn’t proving anyone he’s a long-term answer for Carolina, as he tossed three second half interceptions in a 24-6 loss.”

NFL.com

Author: Dan Hanzus
Rank: 25 (-4)
Author’s take: “The Sam Darnold era in Carolina reached its nadir on Sunday against the Patriots. The struggling quarterback appeared skittish and tentative in Joe Brady’s offense, throwing three interceptions — including a crushing pick-six — in Darnold’s latest nightmare performance against Bill Belichick. Matt Rhule elected to keep Darnold behind center for the entire game, despite his struggles, but Rhule could lose his team if he doesn’t give backup P.J. Walker a chance to fix a broken offense. Carolina’s decision to trade for Darnold and pick up his fifth-year option is beginning to look like a huge error in judgment by the organization.”

ESPN

Author: David Newton
Rank: 24 (-4)
Author’s take: “This doesn’t feel as much like a prediction as it does an inevitability based on Darnold throwing 10 interceptions in the last six games, five resulting in losses. It’s not just the mistakes. It’s also the lack of overall productivity by the offense, which has one touchdown in the past three games. Darnold getting back to making the poor decisions that prompted the New York Jets to trade him to Carolina and move forward with rookie Zach Wilson just seems to cement his destiny.”

Our final take:

Often times in the NFL, you only go as far as your quarterback can take you. And the 2021 Panthers have been a fine case study of that.

A steady and commendable defensive effort throughout the season has been routinely wasted by an incompetent offense, led largely by the blind faith in an unproven and incapable quarterback. Week 9 showed us exactly that, as the Carolina defense could have only done so much amidst a three-interception performance from Darnold.

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