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Cam Newton leads undefeated Panthers with 5 TDs

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Cam Newton tossed a career-high five touchdowns to lead the undefeated Carolina Panthers (10-0) to a convincing 44-16 victory over the Washington Redskins (4-6) in Week 11. Here's what you need to know:

1. Newton is sitting on the lowest completion rate (56.9) of his career, but he's shown obvious improvement as a passer the last two weeks. After completing his first 11 passes for the first time in his career versus the Titans last week, Newton tossed four first-half touchdown passes on Sunday -- the most he has thrown in a single game since the 2010 SEC Championship. The Panthers' 31 first-half points were the most in franchise history. A minute into the second half, Newton added a fifth touchdown strike to rookie Devin Funchess, who was making his first career start with Corey Brown sidelined. The Panthers' 14 consecutive regular-season wins are the third-most in the NFC since the 1970 merger. They travel to Dallas on a short week for a Thanksgiving Day attraction.

2. 'Skins fans will be spared this week from glowing columns suggesting the organization will break the bank to secure a long-term future for impending free agent Kirk Cousins. With an interception and two lost fumbles, the quarterback accounted for three of the five Redskins' turnovers that led to 27 Panthers points -- hardly the recipe for knocking off an undefeated road foe. Although he's authored several definitive drives this season, Cousins can't make all of the NFL throws, doesn't take care of the football and finds consistency elusive. He's not a top-20 NFL quarterback.

3. A scary thought for opponents: Between Newton's improvement as a passer and the emergence of Funchess on offense to go with the rise of "blue goose" pass rusher Kony Ealy and safety Kurt Coleman as consistent playmakers on defense, the Panthers are growing stronger by the week. They welcome star defensive end Charles Johnson back from IR boomerang in Week 12. This defense hasn't played a snap in the red zone over the past two weeks.

4. Jonathan Stewart no longer has the fourth and fifth gears to break off long runs, but he's been a model of patience, vision and power since the beginning of October. A prototypical chain mover and clock killer, Stewart is on pace for a career-high 1,224 rushing yards. Along with Newton, tight end Greg Olsen, center Ryan Kalil and right guard Trai Turner, Stewart is deserving of serious Pro Bowl consideration in Carolina's run-dominant offense.

5. The Washington backfield, hailed as a team strength in September, is a mess right now. Alfred Morris never returned after leaving with a first-quarter injury to his ribs, rookie Matt Jones was benched after losing his fourth fumble of the season and passing-down specialist Chris Thompson was lucky not to lose his own fumble. Prior to the final drive in garbage time, Redskins backs had combined for a grand total of 2 yards on eight carries.

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