Five to Watch: Panthers v. Rams

Can Matt Moore and Carolina's fledgling passing game take another step forward Sunday in St. Louis? Can the running game get the job done without lead dog DeAngelo Williams? These are among the things to watch as the Panthers seek win No. 2.

1. It will be interesting to see how this young team responds to the confidence gained from winning its first game. After defeating the 49ers at home last Sunday, the Panthers now travel to St. Louis to face another NFC West opponent. If ever there was a recipe for a two-game winning streak, playing two straight NFC West opponents is it.

2. The health of DeAngelo Williams' foot and its effect on the running game. Let's face it, he's been healthy all year and the running game has been nonexistent anyway. Jonathan Stewart still doesn't seem fully recovered from offseason Achilles surgery, so it's a big question as to whether he'll be able to get the bulk of the carries. Mike Goodson may have to serve a pivotal role if the Panthers don't want to lean too heavily on the arm of Matt Moore.

3. Rookie WR David Gettis stood out in last week's win. The sixth-round pick had eight receptions for 125 yards and his first two career TDs. The rookie showed something after dropping a potential game-tying TD. Call it resolve, call it moxie, call it whatever you want, but Gettis showed it by bouncing back and catching the game-tying TD minutes after the drop. On a team that's been looking for someone to excel alongside Steve Smith since Taft was in office, Gettis provided a glimmer of hope.

4. Tim Tebow aside, Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen entered the 2010 NFL draft as the top two NFL-ready quarterbacks. Barring a Matt Moore setback or injury, we won't get to see both of them on the field. Eight games into their careers, Bradford is off to a much better start. Panthers fans will surely be watching him closely if only to further scrutinize just how far Clausen has to go.

5. Dream a little dream. You all remember it, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2004, in St. Louis. It's double-OT and Steve Smith is wide open running down the field for a 69-yard touchdown that sends the Panthers to the NFC Championship game in Philadelphia. Magic has happened before in the Edward Jones Dome for the Panthers, it could happen again.

True, that was then and this is now, but now is about as crazy a time as the NFL has seen. Who's to say that the Panthers can't go on a run here and make things interesting come playoff time? Sure, they've only won one game, but look at the schedule. There are only two games left on their schedule that they probably have no chance at winning: Week 11 vs. Baltimore and Week 16 in Pittsburgh. Other than that, on paper, they have a legitimate shot at the remaining eight games. They even get to play the division-leading Atlanta Falcons twice.

Yes, there are a lot of ifs involved, but this is a season in which the Cleveland Browns just beat the Saints in New Orleans, Brett Favre is throwing TDs to Randy Moss and Pete Carroll has an NFL team in first place. Is it so unlikely that this Panthers team gets on a roll?

Michael Stolp is a graduate of Wilkes University with a degree in Communications. He grew up in Piscataway, N.J., and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC. To follow his personal blog, click here.

Panther Insider Top Stories