A LOOK INSIDE THE PANTHERS DEFENSE
6. What is the story with Julius Peppers? He is the highest paid defensive linemen in the league, but doesnt appear to be living up to his paycheck.
Brad Thomas: Peppers had a stretch near the middle of the season where he played lights-out. Since then, he's been battling a broken hand. Still, many Panther fans don't believe he's worth the exorbitant price the team is paying. It's been evident that this team is suffering due to lack of depth and upgrades needed at some positions.
7. How will the Panthers try to stop the Patriots passing attack, and do they have the tools necessary to do so?
Thomas: The Panthers try to rush four and let the other 7 play a cover-2 defense. Oftentimes they get little pass rush. They've got a good middle linebacker in Jon Beason, a heavy-hitting safety in Chris Harris and a decent corner in Chris Gamble. Other than that, it could be another banner day for the Patriots' passing attack.
8. Jon Beason is dominating the team in tackles, leading by nearly 40 over the next defender. Is he a one-man show, or do the Panthers have players to surround him?
Thomas: That's a bit of a misnomer; Thomas Davis was having a pro bowl year until he was lost for the season a few weeks ago. The team has little depth.
9. Richard Marshall went to the same school as former Patriot Ellis Hobbs (Fresno State). New England was believed to have a serious interest in Marshall but the Panthers took him first. The Pats settled on Hobbs, who they just opted to trade away at the start of this season. How is Marshall doing, and has he lived up to his Draft status?
Thomas: Marshall did well in his first few seasons as the Panthers' nickel cornerback. This season, he's given up a few big plays and has been relatively inconsistent.
10. What is the biggest concern for the Panthers defense against the Patriots or any team?
Thomas: The Panthers can't afford to get down early. Since they have little depth, later in the game their starters and key players will be run-down and tired.
Brad Thomas, former writer for PantherInsider.com, has covered the Panthers since the teams' inception. He now writes occasionally for CarolinaHuddle.com and can be found here as a guest analyst on Scout.com