1. Can the offense regain its edge after scoring a season-low 12 points last week? The Redskins had opportunities for big plays last week, but dropped passes and some blocking breakdowns limited their overall effectiveness. Not falling behind early would help them, too.
2. Will the Redskins finish strong? The Panthers (1-6) have lost five straight, including their last four by a total of 12 points. They have led in the second half of all four. The Redskins’ game last week was the first in which they weren’t tied or leading in the fourth quarter.
3. Will the secondary improve in coverage? This is the most important question for the second half of the season. Panthers WR Steve Smith had 143 yards on seven catches in last year’s 33-20 victory over Washington. Brandon LaFell, Carolina’s third-leading receiver, might sit out with a concussion.
4. Can the pass rush disrupt Panthers QB Cam Newton? Newton will punish the Redskins if he has a clean pocket, but he’s also a threat to run when things break down. Carolina coach Ron Rivera said teams have had success playing soft zones and then rallying to the ball if Newton runs.
5. Will the offense re-establish its speed advantage? The Redskins suddenly lost their speed advantage last week against Pittsburgh. WR Pierre Garcon and TE Fred Davis are hurt, and WR Brandon Banks didn’t play on offense last week. Speedy WR Aldrick Robinson will play more this week, coach Mike Shanahan said.