Panthers at Eagles -- Week 12

Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (turf, outdoors)

When: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Spread: Panthers by 2.5

Forecast: Clear; temperatures in mid-40s; 10 percent chance of rain; wind from the W-SW at 11 mph.

Records: Panthers (Overall: 2-8; NFC South: 1-3); Eagles (Overall: 3-7; NFC East: 1-2)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Sept. 13, 2009: Eagles 38, Panthers 10; Dec. 4, 2006: Eagles 27, Panthers 24. Series record: Eagles lead 5-2.

What matters: This game will determine whether the Eagles are just merely bad or if they’re truly awful. If they can’t beat the two-win Panthers at home on Monday Night Football, then it’s definitely the latter. It’s also important they get off to a quick start -- and when was the last time that happened? The hometown fans aren’t happy with their team. If the Eagles stumble out of the gate again, it could get very ugly at the Linc, very quickly. However, a fast start could also dishearten the Panthers and take the fight out of them early.

Who matters: Once again it’s rookie QB Nick Foles, for a couple of reasons. The first -- and most obvious -- is that he played poorly in his first NFL start last week against the Redskins. That was a big reason the Eagles lost, and his play will also be a big reason why the Eagles win or lose this one. But the Eagles are looking to the future and they have to decide whether Foles can be the QB who leads or if they have to go outside, via free agency or the draft, to find their next franchise quarterback.

Key matchup: Eagles TE Brent Celek vs. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly. Celek, usually a reliable receiver, is having the worst season of his career. However, he could break out against Kuechly, who is having a terrific season, but is just a rookie. Plus, Foles will rely on his tight end a lot as a safety valve receiver. Celek let Foles down last week when a pass bounced off his hands was intercepted and led to the Redskins’ first touchdown. He has to give the rookie QB more help this week. So, look for Celek to have a big game and his play could be the difference.

Injuries of note: QB Michael Vick (concussion), RB LeSean McCoy (concussion), WR Jason Avant (hamstring) and RB Chris Polk (toe) are out. … RG Danny Watkins is still hampered by an ankle sprain and even though he’ still listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, veteran Jake Scott will start again in his place. Scott made his first start last week vs. the Redskins after being with the team for just six days.

Connections: Panthers coach Ron Rivera was part of Andy Reid’s original Eagles staff in 1999 as linebackers coach. … Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott also was part of that staff, first as secondary coach, then linebackers coach and finally defensive coordinator. … Eagles DT Derek Landri started all 16 games for Carolina in 2010 and had career highs in tackles (63) and sacks (3.0). … Eagles G Evan Mathis played for the Panthers from 2005-2007, starting 15 games.

Inside stuff: Foles made his first NFL start last week vs. Washington and it wasn’t a good game for him or his wide receivers -- starters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin had a total of two catches for five yards, none by Maclin, who is supposed to be the Eagle’s No. 1 WR. So, look for the Eagles to find a way early in the game to get the ball to their two playmakers on the outside, especially since they won’t have their best player on the field, as McCoy was concussed against the Redskins last week. Look for Foles to throw bubble screens or short curl patterns, anything that gives him a high-percentage opportunity to make some completions, gain some confidence and get Jackson and Maclin involved in the offense.

Stats you should know: Don’t be surprised to see Jackson return punts on Monday night -- he’s returned two in his career vs. the Panthers and is averaging 53 yards per return, including an 85-yard TD. … The Eagles are the only team in the NFL that has not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season. … Eagles K Alex Henery has made 16 straight field goal attempts, just one off the team record he shares with David Akers. It’s also the second-longest active streak in the NFL, behind the Browns’ Phil Dawkins (25 straight). For his career, Henery is 41 for 45. … The Eagles’ offense has scored on its first possession of the second half in nine straight games. … The Eagles are 13-9 on Monday Night Football.

Looking ahead: The Eagles play at Dallas in Week 13 before hosting Tampa Bay and the Bengals. 

Prediction: Panthers 24, Eagles 17

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow @CBSEagles.