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Panthers vs. Cardinals preview: 5 questions for Cat Scratch Reader

Our weekly crossblog feature continues.

Christian Petersen

Well, it is time again to get some perspective from our sister blogs. This time it is Cat Scratch Reader, where you can get nonstop Panthers news and commentary. I asked James Dator some questions about the Cardinals' next opponent.

Where does Cam Newton stand with Panthers fans right now? Is he the franchise guy that he looked like he could be? Is he the leader he needs to be?

Most fans realize, or more aptly should realize that he's the one quarterback out of this "rise of the young QBs" grouping who has gotten almost no offensive help. Carolina's offensive line is a mess, there aren't really any weapons outside of Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, which makes it infuriating because with a little support Newton could be so much more.

There has been a huge maturation in Newton over the last 12 months. He's talked publicly about his failings, and how he entered the league 'not knowing how to lose'. I think it's a byproduct of a man so physically gifted he was used to things coming easily -- now realizing he needs to lean on the rest of his team to be productive. Newton was named team captain for the first time ever, and I believe he's the franchise QB we thought he'd be.

Which team is Carolina? They killed a bad Giants team. They lost to the Bills. They made the Seahawks look mortal. How much different are they on the road?

Do you know? Seriously, because I have no clue. This is what happens when an immensely talented roster is poorly coached. There is no excuse for a team with an elite defensive line and franchise quarterback to struggle in games like the one against Buffalo.

Seattle is great, you know that -- but week one was an early game, on the east coast, where the Seahawks were missing several players due to injury or suspension. All the cards were stacked against them, and the Panthers still squandered the lead.

Overall I feel better about the Seattle loss as that team has gotten better, worse about the Bills loss and worse about the Giants win. Is that a wash? It feels like it.

What are the Panthers' greatest strengths and where will they struggle? How do those match up with what you perceive the strengths and weaknesses are for the Cards?

Biggest strength is the pass rush, hands down and biggest weakness is the secondary -- which is why these two work in concert.

Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should have decimated the Panthers on paper, but an overwhelming pass rush ensured nothing could develop. Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy and Star Lotulelei are all legitmate NFL studs, with the two defensive ends forming the best 4-3 pairing in the NFL -- at least in my opinion.

The Cardinals have a lot of weapons at receiver too, and a quarterback who can get them the ball. Everything will hinge on that battle up front. If the Panthers get after Palmer I think it will be a long day for you guys.

In terms of the Cardinals' weaknesses I think it's your run game and offensive line, which is very much like New York. The difference is that Arizona has the opportunistic secondary needed to give Cam Newton headaches.

What one Cardinals player would you take for your team and why?

It feels like saying Larry Fitzgerald would be a cop out, so I'll go a different route and say Patrick Peterson. I'll confess I'm not the biggest Peterson fan in the world in terms of a pure shutdown corner, but he's vastly superior to anything the Panthers have now. Adding him with the pressure up front could be enough to finalize the defense as one of the league's best.

What player or players will stand out that Cardinals fans perhaps have not heard of?

This is hard because I feel like so many of Carolina's weapons are known quantities. In honor of staying off the beaten path I'll say Ted Ginn. Yep, that Ted Ginn.

He is a one-trick pony, but that trick pairs awfully well with Cam Newton's skillset. Stick Ginn in the slot and have him run a vert, that's the extent of his role -- but since increasing his snap count things have gotten a lot better for the offense. He has 133 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the last two games, which is fairly good for a guy who is the 4th receiving option on offense.