SBN polled all 32 of their NFL blogs and averaged the rankings to generate the first 2012 preseason power rankings. James Dator provided the write up we submitted in what turned out to be a pretty fair ranking I think:
From Cat Scratch Reader:
In case you hadn't noticed: Cam Newton changed everything. There's no statement too big to describe the impact he has had on the Carolina Panthers organization in just over 12 months. For the first time in over a decade, the Panthers have an elite offense, so this off-season was devoted to completely revamping the defense and special teams.
Through free agency the team signed noted special-teamers from around the league, and backed that up by taking the best returner in college football, Arkansas' Joe Adams in the 4th round. 2011 was a year that saw the Panthers lose no fewer than four defensive starters, and created a vacuum where week in, week out Carolina were playing sub-par defensive talent.
With players returning from injury, and the addition of Luke Kuechly, the Panthers defense will not be perfect but should be far better than last year. On the strength of offense alone, and the two other phases improved, there's no way this team in going 6-10 again.
Before anyone gets too worked up over the low ranking consider that at #18 that would equate to a #14 draft position. When considering we actually drafted at #9 that would mean the SBN bloggers as a whole see significant improvement in the Panthers.
The NFC South as a whole didn't exactly light it up in this ranking as the Saints were ranked #8, the Falcons #13 and the Bucs #25. The biggest surprise on the list for me was seeing the Browns dead last. I would think the Colts should hold that spot until we see Luck throw the ball and whether the defense can stop anybody. So what do you think Panther fans?