4 burning questions the Panthers must answer at Falcons in Week 8

Dean Jones
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
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FOX. Sunday, October 31. 44. Panthers +3.0. 3-4. 87. 3-3. 1 PM ET

What burning questions must the Carolina Panthers answer when they take on the Atlanta Falcons during a pivotal Week 8 divisional matchup?

Things are on a real knife-edge for the Carolina Panthers. The fanbase is restless – which is to be expected after a four-game losing run – and considering how tough things are about to get on the schedule, matters could take a further turn for the worse if performance levels don’t rise considerably.

The Panthers are fully aware of the situation they find themselves in. One that they’ve brought on themselves in all honesty.

An over-reliance on Christian McCaffrey and a quarterback gamble that isn’t paying off behind a weak offensive line have left plenty of concerns about the current regime. But victory at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 would be a step in the right direction after weeks of losing football.

With this in mind, here are four burning questions the Panthers must answer at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Burning Question No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Can the Carolina Panthers improve their wide zone run defense?

Although the Panthers’ defense has performed well overall during the 2021 season, there is one particular area where they’ve struggled of late.

Their ability to defend wide zone running plays is an ongoing frustration and something coordinator Phil Snow highlighted as a complication the team needs to improve on moving forward.

Snow added that he expects the Falcons to attack this in Week 8. Former Carolina running back Mike Davis will do the dirty work between the tackles, with Cordarrelle Patterson looking to exploit mismatches on the edge.

This is all about gap discipline. Getting Shaq Thompson back in some capacity will help, but the likes of Brian Burns and Haason Reddick also need to make their presence felt in obvious run situations more than they have of late.