What to watch for in Colts-Panthers 'MNF' clash

The Colts are one of the most fragile first-place teams in football and will be looking for a statement win against the dominant Panthers on Monday night. Can Andrew Luck get it done, bruised ribs and all? Here's what we're watching for tonight ...

1. Which Andrew Luck are we getting? Luck has had his fair share of physical hurdles so far this season, but the year is far from lost. Matt Hasselbeck won both of his spot starts and the Colts are still out in front of their division. The team still has Frank Gore and Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, and they still have one of the better offensive coordinators in football. What they don't have, necessarily, is the luxury of time. We're seeing a few teams begin to put the pieces together but the Colts have inspired no such confidence in us so far.

2. Is this the week we see more of a split at running back? Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw basically split their snaps evenly last week, but Bradshaw was used almost exclusively as a pass blocker, which is undoubtedly his strength. However, the Colts are going to have to establish him as more of a receiving and running threat if they intend to use him like they did a week ago. With Luck still in recovery and Pep Hamilton still loving the potential for ground and pound, would be surprised -- especially if it rains as the forecast indicates -- to see 35 carries?

3. How will the Colts stop Cam Newton? Newton is rushing for almost 40 yards a game, but showed that he can absolutely take over with his legs if invited. The Texans showed no mercy during a Week 2 matchup and Newton ended up with more than 75 yards on the ground. The Colts' defense will likely try and do the same, but will they cause more harm than good?

4. Will this be the night Devin Funchess breaks out? The Panthers' second-round pick was seen by many as a future star in the making. The results have been less than spectacular so far. Granted, Funchess did not get the luxury of working with Kelvin Benjamin, but he's nestled pretty firmly in the No. 3-4 spot right now on Carolina's wide receiver depth chart. Greg Olsen is a great companion for Cam Newton but eventually the team will need to develop more vertical options if they hope to make it deep into the playoffs. Funchess can be that receiver but he needs to get on the field for more than half of the team's snaps.

5. Can Carolina remain the NFC's only unbeaten team? This is arguably Carolina's second-toughest game of the season so far, depending on where you land on the Seahawks-Colts debate right now. They have been efficient through six wins but never all that dominant, and good teams normally pull away at this time of year. Will we find out just how wrong we were about the Panthers on Monday?

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