NFC South Power Rankings: Preseason Week 2 standings

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Aug 14, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to make a pass attempt during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills in a preseason NFL football game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Panthers

After winning consecutive NFC South championships, the Carolina Panthers sit atop these power rankings. They limped their way to crown with a 7-8-1 record last season, but should be improved this time around.

Defensively, the Panthers have the best unit in the division. They owned the NFL’s tenth-best defense last season, finishing 16th against the run and 11th against the pass.

Offensively, the Panthers added Devin Funchess to give Cam Newton another big-bodied receiver. Jonathan Stewart will lead the way with the ground game, and Newton can of course burn teams with his legs too.

Kelvin Benjamin is their main target in the passing game, and Greg Olsen is also a dangerous threat. Both players finished on 1,008 receiving yards last season, with Benjamin scoring nine touchdowns, Olsen six.

The concern for Carolina right now is with Benjamin’s health. The second-year wideout went down in a joint practice with the Dolphins with a knee injury. At the moment, the diagnosis is a knee sprain but he will undergo an MRI scan to find the severity of the injury.

His status for the start of the season is unknown, but anytime missed would be a huge blow for the reigning division champs.

As things stand, it’s the Panthers’ division until proven otherwise.

Next: NFC South: Top 10 playmakers in the division

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