Five Things to Watch: Panthers-Saints

John Fox has never finished with worse than a 7-9 record as coach of the Carolina Panthers. He must go 6-3 over the second half of the season to keep that steak alive, a task that would be made much easier by beating the Saints. Here are five things to watch for in Sunday's divisional clash.

1. No team wants to be in the spoiler role in early November, but that is where the Panthers are. The Saints come to Charlotte off of a big win against Pittsburgh last week, with only the Panthers standing in their way of being 6-3 heading into their bye week. Not bad for a team missing its two starting running backs and four cornerbacks.

2. Matt Moore watched the last meeting between these teams from the sidelines as Jimmy Clausen got the start. If there is any reason for optimism, it's because Moore has faced and beaten a Gregg Williams defense before. In Week 17 last season, Moore threw for 162 and a TD as the Panthers beat the Saints, 23-10. It should be noted, however, that Drew Brees didn't play; Mark Brunell got the start.

3. It will be intriguing to see if a rift develops between the Panthers' offense and defense. Ron Meeks' unit is clearly outperforming the league's worst offense, but the defense has been on the field too much. As it gets later in a lost season, we'll see just how much of a team this squad really is.

4. Some good news for the Panthers: The Bills are getting better and stand a chance to win a game against the Bears this Sunday. With only Buffalo and the Cowboys standing between them and the first overall pick in the draft, the Panthers need to grab a silver lining when they see it.

5. After the flea flicker-turned-interception on the opening play of last week's game and the 11-yard loss on a reverse, is this dreadful offense going to get even more conservative? Will anyone be watching?

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.

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