NFC South Power Rankings: Preseason Week 4 standings

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Aug 22, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) watches the game from the sidelines during the second half of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina wins 31-30. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Panthers

Atop this list, but far from perfect is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers limped over the line last year and somehow made the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but they face a real battle to retain their crown and win a third straight NFC South.

Losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season hurts this team, a lot. There is no sugar-coating it, the Panthers are without a major playmaker on offense. Jonathan Stewart will need to stay healthy and pile up the yards on the ground, and rookie receiver Devin Funchess will need to play well with tight end Greg Olsen. Any more injuries to the specialists on offense could be fatal to Carolina’s playoff ambitions.

They have the defense to win them games, but they will need to slow down some strong offenses in the NFC South. Atlanta can burn you in number of ways with a strong group of receivers, and New Orleans will pose a threat in the air and on the ground. There’s no doubting Carolina own the division’s best defense right now though.

The Panthers need to find an answer on offense or it’s going to be a constant uphill battle. They remain on top of these rankings until proven otherwise, but the Benjamin injury is devastating.

Next: Four Falcons whose stock is rising

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