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No. 20 has bit of cool factor

There are two important numbers to consider this week:

No. 20 and No. 47.

According to the latest Harris Poll, which asks more than 2,000 people with nothing better to do than to rate their favorite NFL teams, the Carolina Panthers are the 20th most popular team in the league. That means if franchises were lining up on the playground to pick teams for kickball, the Panthers would be picked somewhere near the middle.

Dallas would be picked first, then Pittsburgh, then Green Bay. They're the popular kids.

Being No. 20 means the Panthers landed squarely between Detroit and Tennessee. That's not exactly the geek squad but it suggests that hosting the Democratic National Convention doesn't immediately confer cool.

Cam Newton, however, does bring cool into the equation and may explain why the Panthers improved from No. 23 last year.

If you're wondering who the least popular teams are - and it's OK if you are - the bottom three are the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals and, No. 32, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Perhaps that's because the Jags' uniforms include a pocket protector filled with mechanical pencils just above the numbers on their chest.

The other number - 47 - is where Charlotte ranks on a list of best sports cities, according to The Sporting News.

What does that mean?

It means we split the difference between Calgary and Ottawa. In other words, we know how Jaguars fans feel.

To be fair, The Sporting News list - Dallas-Fort Worth is No. 1, by the way - is skewed to work against Charlotte. That's because it includes those pesky won-loss records and playoff appearances among local teams as part of the equation.

After the seasons the Panthers and Bobcats had, being 47th doesn't sound so bad, even though Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill ranked 23rd despite including N.C. State in its demographic. At least we showed Greensboro - No. 227 - who's boss.

As for more important numbers:

NEW ORLEANS at CAROLINA: John Kasay returns - and brings Drew Brees with him. Saints 27, Panthers 23.

ARIZONA at MINNESOTA: The Vikings are intent on adding their name to the discussion of the NFL's worst team. The Dolphins are in there. So are the Rams, maybe the Colts, maybe a few others. Talk amongst yourselves. Cardinals 24, Vikings 20.

KANSAS CITY at INDIANAPOLIS: Without Peyton Manning, the Colts became suddenly irrelevant. Like the Pips without Gladys Knight. Colts 24, Chiefs 21.

PHILADELPHIA at BUFFALO: Some dream team. Eagles 26, Bills 23.

CINCINNATI at JACKSONVILLE: The who cares game of the week (unofficially endorsed by the Harris Poll). Jags 27, Bengals 17.

TENNESSEE at PITTSBURGH: There are guys in the MMA who don't take as many hits as Ben Roethlisberger. It's one thing to be tough. It's something else to be a punching bag. Steelers 20, Titans 17.

SEATTLE at NEW YORK GIANTS: The Giants are leading the super-hyped NFC East and the question is will any team catch them. Not this week. Giants 34, Seahawks 14.

TAMPA BAY at SAN FRANCISCO: The 49ers have already won three games this season which, in the NFC West, means they only need a couple of more wins to clinch the division title. That Harbaugh guy must know what he's doing. 49ers 23, Bucs 10.

SAN DIEGO at DENVER: Tim Tebow may not be the answer in Denver, but the question isn't going away. Wonder how John Fox is liking life in the Mile High city these days. Chargers 37, Broncos 17.

NEW YORK JETS at NEW ENGLAND: Quick question: How many NFL quarterbacks would you rather have than Cam Newton? Tom Brady, sure. He is, after all, Tom Brady. But Mark Sanchez? No.

There are more quarterbacks on the no list than on the yes list, by the way. Patriots 27, Jets 23.

GREEN BAY at ATLANTA: The Packers aren't going undefeated this season, at least I don't think they are. That means they're going to lose somewhere. This might be the place. Falcons 28, Packers 24.

CHICAGO at DETROIT: Are we ready for some "Monday Night Football" without Hank Williams Jr.?

More than ready. Lions 32, Bears 17.

Last week: 8-8

Season: 41-21

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