Power Rankings: No. 24 Carolina Panthers

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

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 26 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Defensive end Greg Hardy says he can beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one basketball, and the Carolina Panthers remain behind the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons in the ESPN Power Rankings.

Tell me: Which surprises you more?

OK, Hardy beating the NBA's four-time MVP is the easy choice.

That Carolina (2-3), which moved up two spots to 24th after Sunday's 35-10 victory at Minnesota, remains behind the Falcons in the rankings really isn't a surprise.

Until the Panthers win two games in a row, something they haven't done in their first six games since the 2009 season, they won't get the respect they seek.

If they win three in a row, they'll for sure pass Atlanta -- a team they beat once last season and should have beaten twice -- because the teams meet in two weeks.

Hardy likely won't ever get a chance to face James on the court, something he can be thankful for.