Bob Leverone/Associated Press
Last Week: T13
There were positives and negatives to be gleaned from Carolina's two preseason wins.
Second-year tailback Christian McCaffrey has been a positive. McCaffrey scorched the Miami Dolphins last week, taking his first carry 71 yards for a score and piling up well over 100 total yards in limited action.
The play of the offensive line has been another story. A front five that was hit pretty hard by personnel losses and injuries over the past several months has struggled at times—especially in pass protection.
The latter is more cause for concern than the former is for celebration. McCaffrey is not going to power through contact consistently. He needs holes to run through. And if the run game sputters and the Panthers have to air it out, it takes the Panthers out of their comfort zone.
To be fair, the Panthers did just fine in that regard against the Dolphins. But that was one quarter or so of one game against a so-so defense...and even then the pass pro for Cam Newton wasn't especially good. The week before against the Buffalo Bills, McCaffrey managed just 11 yards on four carries.
At their best, Carolina wins by running the football and playing defense. By winning the battle in the trenches.
It made the playoffs that way in 2017. Made the Super Bowl that way at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
Right now the Panthers aren't winning those battles. At least not consistently.
Source : https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2791744-nfl-power-rankings-rams-overtake-top-spot-in-brs-latest-expert-consensus