Ron Rivera proved he belongs in the NFL. A solid and fierce competitor from his playing days with the Bears, it is that mentality he continues to bring to the coaching ranks of the Carolina Panthers – a team that surprised everyone last season and took the NFC South.

Rivera, who was almost fired the season before, has brought a winning culture to an organization that can be a good for a number of years in possibly the toughest division in football.

The Carolina Panthers aren’t ready to be anointed the new Chicago Bears, but they are going to be a force defensively with Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly in the middle and all-world quarterback Cam Newton behind center. The 13-3 season was great, but it also left questions unanswered in how the team lost in its final game, but looked flat in doing it.

These are the five biggest questions facing this franchise in 2014.