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Carolina Panthers seek consistency after bye week

In our new Around The League series, "Stick A Fork In Them," we choose one flailing team each week whose season we deem to be effectively over.

Our next edition won't be posted until Monday, but the Carolina Panthers are in danger of joining the Kansas City Chiefs in some cold, Lombardi-free company.

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» Beisner: Marshall likes 'fiery' QB Cutler
» Breer: Sanchez tougher minus Holmes?
» Dales: Panthers search for consistency
» Rapoport: Reed downplays hurt shoulder
» Rapoport: Suggs helps Ravens' pass rush

The Panthers come off their bye with a 1-4 record, facing a Dallas Cowboys team that's nearly as desperate for a win as they are.

Struggling quarterback Cam Newton won't have the benefit of arguably the game's best center in Ryan Kalil, whose season is over after suffering a foot injury. Geoff Hangartner is tasked with filling Kalil's big shoes.

Hangartner told NFL.com and NFL Network's Stacey Dales that the Panthers spent more time on themselves than the Cowboys during their bye week, working in a reflective "self-scouting" mode. Hangartner said the offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Newton, who has been sacked 13 times in five games.

"I think we're all frustrated with the way the season's going," Hangartner told Dales. "Last year, we had a lot of success offensively, we moved the ball well, we had high expectations coming into this year. But we've had no consistency. ... And yet, we're really close."

Close won't cut it on Sunday. The Panthers need to find a way to finish ... and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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