NFC South Power Rankings: End of preseason standings

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Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) runs for yardage chased by New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

1. Carolina Panthers
Last week: 1

How much of an impact will the loss of Kelvin Benjamin have on this offense? By the looks of it, Greg Olsen is in for a busy year as a pass-catcher. Cam Newton could be scrambling for options, especially if rookie wideout Devin Funchess is forced to miss any time after missing the end of preseason.

We know how talented a quarterback Newton is, with his ability to make plays with his legs. But without his 6-foot-5 second-year receiver who put up 1,008 receiving yards and nine touchdowns last year, will the offense be able to move the football? Funchess at 6-foot-4 will look to fill the void, but he seems like a raw prospect at best right now. Carolina can’t afford any more injuries on offense, which means running back Jonathan Stewart will need to feature in all 16 games for the first time since 2011.

The Panthers have the defense to slow down some of the division’s top offenses, although they will be relying on it much more heavily than they might have anticipated. Carolina sits atop these power rankings for now, but it’s going to be tough work to stay here.

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