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

The Philadelphia Eagles need a victory to maintain their one-game lead in the NFC East following the Dallas Cowboys' victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The NFC South is wide open thanks to a rare New Orleans Saints' home loss on Sunday.

Here's what to watch for as the Carolina Panthers travel to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Eagles on Monday night:

  1. With the "butt fumble" vanishing in the rear-view mirror, confidence is no longer an issue for Mark Sanchez as he assumes control of the Eagles' offense. Coach Chip Kelly was effusive in his praise of Sanchez after the former Jets quarterback followed an impressive preseason with a victory over the Texans in his regular-season debut. Leading receiver Jeremy Maclin believes the "sky's the limit" for the Eagles with Sanchez at the controls. We'll have a better idea if that overwhelming optimism is justified after Monday's tilt.
  1. Sanchez isn't the only quarterback in the spotlight. Just when Cam Newtonappeared to be developing into a top-five NFL quarterback, he went in the tank. For the first time in his career, Newton has completed less than 50 percent of his passes over a three-game span. He's fallen back into bad habits with sloppy footwork that leads to scattershot accuracy. The Panthers need him to play like early-season Cam if they're going to end their current skid featuring one win in seven games.
  1. A struggling Panthers ground attack has started to show signs of life behind Jonathan Stewart, who is averaging 4.9 yards per carry over the last month. So why did coach Ron Rivera obstinately reinsert DeAngelo Williams as the starter last week after missing four games? Keep an eye on Carolina's backfield breakdown. If they give Stewart a chance to get in a groove, it will take some pressure off of Newton.
  1. Eagles power back Chris Polk earned a spot on our Week 10 snap report after an impressive tackle-breaking 50-yard performance in Houston. Relegated to the bench through seven weeks, Polk is now an intriguing "thunder" option to complement the "lightning" of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.
  1. While all eyes are on Sanchez replacing Nick Foles, the season-ending injury to veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans could be more debilitating. Ryans was not only pacing the team in tackles but also handled the defensive "quarterback role in terms of setting the fronts," coordinator Billy Davis explained last week. Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will split time as Ryans' replacement. It's a steep drop off in terms of experience, leadership and talent.
  1. Zach Ertz appeared to be on his way to a breakout season in September, as he was leading the NFL in plays over 20 yards early on. He hasn't gone over 50 yards in a game since Week 2, however. Ertz is coming off his least effective game and lowest snap total in the win over the Texans. Perhaps Sanchez can reignite the talented tight end's season. The two had a nice rapport in August.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 10 game from an action-packed Sunday. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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