2018 NFL Power Rankings: Brandin Cooks, Ndamukong Suh puts Rams on top

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 10: Brandin Cooks
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 10: Brandin Cooks /
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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

9. Carolina Panthers

Ron Rivera was thrilled to see the Carolina Panthers get back on track to become playoff contenders in the NFC once again after winning just six games the year before, although the head coach would have loved to see his team advance further than Wild Card Weekend. Still, if the Panthers pickup where they left off in 2017, chances are this team will be able to continue being a serious contender in the NFC, especially since they appear to have one of the best overall teams in the NFL.

With Luke Kuechly leading the way on the defensive side of the football, it was great to see Cam Newton return to his MVP level of play for Carolina, even when the team decided to move on from Kelvin Benjamin. The Panthers took a major risk before the trade deadline by parting ways with the former first-round pick, but when seeing how guys like Devin Funchess stepped up in the absence of Benjamin, this shows the risk paid off big time.

As for the offseason, Carolina was able to accomplish one of their goals by bringing in a veteran receiver in Torrey Smith to help mentor some of the younger guys both on and off the field. After recently winning his second Super Bowl as a member of the Eagles, Smith could end up being one of the most underrated moves of the offseason.