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Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Power Rankings: No. 4 Carolina Panthers

By David Newton

A weekly examination of the Panthers' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 6 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera insists he hasn't looked at playoff scenarios with two games remaining in the regular season.

"No," he said. "The only thing I do see is it's about winning, and every time we do win we get closer to it. I'm trying to stay focused and I won't talk about it. I want to focus on the next game."

The Panthers are fourth in the latest ESPN.com Power Rankings with a 10-4 record. Their next game is a rematch with the New Orleans Saints, which beat them 31-13 in the Superdome two weeks ago for their only loss in the last 10 games.

And they still aren't guaranteed a playoff spot with Arizona (9-5), New Orleans (10-4) and San Francisco (10-4) still in the mix.

All Rivera knows for sure is that a win against New Orleans would clinch at least a wild-card spot and wins against the Saints at home and the Falcons in Atlanta would clinch the NFC South and a first-round playoff game.

"Where the league is headed ... it's crazy," Rivera said. "There is a lot of parity, and I think it makes for an exciting season, but it most certainly gives you heartburn."