1) Canal Street Chronicles: I'm not going to bury the lead: Carolina is the only remaining unbeaten team in the NFL this season at 11-0 and their remaining opponents are the Saints, Falcons (twice), Giants and Buccaneers who have a combined 20-24 record. Will they go 16-0? And do you think that it's important to this Panthers team?
Jaxon Finney: I'm thinking they will lose one of their remaining road games, either this weekend to the Saints or the following week in NY or in ATL week 16. If the Panthers are sitting at 15-0 and have already clinched home field advantage I think Rivera will still play to won to etch this team in history, if they get to that point. The Bucs could win that game as well. Otherwise I won't think it is very important to go 16-0 because I truly believe they are focused on going to the Super Bowl. 15-1, 14-2 will not hurt their feelings.
2) CSC: The Panthers have been winning with a bit of an "old school" mentality: play suffocating defense, run the ball (including doing it with your quarterback). In this era of pass-happy offenses, can this style of play take them all the way to bringing back that shiny Lombardi trophy to Carolina? Could they survive a big shootout against a team like the Cardinals for instance?
JF: I think their style of play can get them a SB victory though I agree the Cardinals are a formidable match-up. The defense may give up a big play or two in a game but they have been great at making adjustments. Where they see a weakness, they have not been hesitant to bring in an upgrade (ala Jared Allen and now Cortland Finnegan). I'm confident the Panthers can win a defensive struggle, but a shootout? Not so much.
3) CSC: We all know about Cam, Olsen, Kuechly, Davis and Norman. Could you tell us about one player for the Panthers on each side of the ball that may not be receiving the same type of accolades as these guys yet has been just as instrumental in the team's success to date?
JF: On defense it is easily S Kurt Coleman, who now has 5 INTs on the season and has ben key in run support. On offense WR Jerricho Cotchery has made the critical catches when the Panthers really need them.
4) CSC: On Sunday, your Panthers will try to go 12-0 against our Saints in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Right now you are Saints' defensive coordinator Dennis Allen: how would you go about slowing down Cam Newton and Carolina's offense? On the other side of the ball, if you were Sean Payton, how would you attack that excellent Panthers' defense?
JF: The key is stopping the Panthers running game first and then getting pressure on Newton on 3rdand long. It's a well-known formula for beating the Panthers it's just not working quite as well as it did last season. Mainly because Newton is making the proper reads and not forcing passes. On offense the Saints will need to take what the Panthers give them, the underneath stuff and then not make any mistakes. The Saints actually passed the ball well against the Panthers D in the 1stgame (310 yds passing) and that was without Brees so I would say do more of that. I should mention though Kuechly missed that game as well.
5) CSC: Prediction time for you: Who wins this game between the Saints and Panthers on Sunday and more importantly: why?
JF: Lately I've predicted the games to be much closer than they actually ended up but I'm having a hard time predicting a big win. The Saints always play the Panthers tough in New Orleans. So I'm going to say it will be close until a late score puts the Saints away. Panthers 37 - Saints 27.
Many thanks to Jaxon for taking the time to speak with us. For more Saints-Panthers coverage from the "enemy's" point of view, check out the great work of the guys at Cat Scratch Reader.