coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
On 11/12/2013 04:55 PM in NFL

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers: Preview and Pick

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers: Preview and Pick

The Monday night football game for week 11 in the National Football League will be better than expected. When the schedule first game out, this looked like a layup for the Patriots. However, the Carolina Panthers are making a case as one of the best teams in the league. After beating the San Francisco 49ers, the Panthers defense showed they can play with anyone and will get another test on Monday night when they go up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game have the upstart Panthers listed as (-2.5) point favorites. Although the Panthers are playing inspired football, the betting public is not buying into it as they are betting on the Patriots at a 57 percent clip according to the early betting returns. This line has yet to move, but it may change leading up to kickoff so make sure to check your top rated sports book for the latest line.

The surprising uprising from the Panthers is due to their defense. The Panthers had four consecutive blowout victories going into the Week 10 matchup, but until they could beat a top opponent on the road, there was reason to want to see more out of them. There came the belief in Sunday’s gritty 10-9 win. While from the outside, it’s easy to make Cam Newton the face of Carolina’s success, the low score was tailor made to bring attention to a no-longer well-kept secret: Their defense is off the charts good.
Coming into the game, the elite numbers were all there. The Panthers improved their No. 2 scoring defense (only Kansas City is better). They were third in total defense (yardage), second against the run, 10th against the pass and tied for third in interceptions. That is something that could spell big trouble for the Patriots on Monday night.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some interesting betting angles for both teams. The total has gone over in 4 of New England's last 6 games and the total has gone over in 11 of New England's last 16 games on the road. New England is 17-4 straight up in its last 21 games overall and 6-2 straight up in its last 8 games on the road. Carolina is 5-1 straight up in its last 6 games at home and New England is 1-4-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games on the road to include 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Carolina.

New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0
coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
11/13/2013 02:40 PM

When the New England Patriots go up against the Carolina Panthers, they will surely do their homework. Its important to know about a team whose defense is tight in every category. They are number one in almost all the defensive groups in the league. The Patriots should not be taking them lightly.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady knew what they were dealing with and agreed that they would be a tough nut to break.

"They've got every stat, every category — third down, red area, sacks, and they turn it over. They've got it all," he said. "They're one of the best defenses in the league. So we have to play really well."

Their track record has been going very well. They are 6-3 currently and have given the fewest points at 12.8. They also have allowed a nominal 283.3 yards a game and gave their best performance of this season on Sunday when they managed to limit the San Francisco 49ers to just nine points and 151 yards. They are now on a winning streak of five games.

And that is the tip of the iceberg. Their impregnable defence has allowed their opponents to complete only 33.9 of the attempts. And during the last 5 matches, the opponents have together scored only four touchdowns.

"Teams aren't really scoring on them. They're not doing much against them. Nine points last week from the Niners. That's not what we want. We hopefully can do a little better than that," said their offensive tackle Logan Mankins. "They haven't been giving up much of anything — the run, pass, points, they're good in the red zone, good on third down. They're good at everything right now."

Even though the Patriots have went up against some hard defences, there is no doubt that the Panthers defence will be something that will rank as one of the toughest they will face.

"We struggle at different times for different reasons and different things — third down, red area and things like that," quarterback Tom Brady said. "We're trying to make improvements in all those areas. This isn't a game where you can really not be good in those areas.”

Brady continued, saying that there would be no room for mistakes against the Panthers.

"You can't turn it over, you can't have negative plays, everything that we talk about, keys to winning the game,” he said. “They lead the league in time of possession, second in scoring defense. There's no shortcuts."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0
coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
11/13/2013 02:43 PM

The last time the Patriots faced the Panthers, Cam Newton was at Blinn College winning the NJCAA National Championship. In that time, he has added the 2010 Heisman Trophy, the 2010 BCS National Championship and the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year award to his trophy case.

The Panthers won't get a trophy for beating the Patriots in a regular season game, but it would most definitely be a banner win for their team. Truth be told, though, Newton doesn't have to deliver the win on his own.

The defense has been playing some of the best football the league has to offer, currently ranked second in both points and yards. They have the formula to give the Patriots problems, with a front four that can get after the quarterback with seven defenders in coverage.

Here's a closer look at the Panthers.

How they got here:
The Panthers dropped their first two games of the season, despite leading in the fourth quarter in both games. The Panthers lost those games by a combined six points, but have earned their six wins by an average of 20.2 points. They have won six of their last seven, and have won five straight headed into this week's game. Those wins, however, come against opponents that are a combined 18-37

Key cog, offense -- Cam Newton, QB:
Let's not get cute here. The Panthers are more committed to running the ball this year than years past, but Newton is what makes it all work. His rare combination of pocket passing ability, along with athleticism, speed and strength as a runner in the open field, make him the NFL's best dual-threat quarterback. His passer rating is at a career-high, despite a career-low in passing yards per attempt. That's indicative that he's doing a better job of taking what the defense gives him, and

Key cog, defense -- Greg Hardy, DE:
You could easily fill in any of the Panthers defensive linemen in this spot, but Hardy has the biggest all-around impact of that group. Hardy entered the league considered somewhat of a pass-rush specialist, and he remains effective in that role, but he has become a more well-rounded player in his ability to set the edge in the running game. He has an impressive burst off the snap to get upfield in a hurry when rushing the passer, and at 6-4 and 290 pounds, he's not easy to move off the ball when running his direction. There are few, if any, holes in his game.

X factor -- Mike Tolbert, FB:
Very few fullbacks show up on a scouting report these days, but Tolbert may be one of the most versatile ones in the league. He contributes in the running game as a lead blocker and short-yardage back, and in the passing game as a blitz protector and a pass-catcher. He has a compact frame at 5-9 and 243 pounds, which allows him to get low on his assignment when blocking. He's not running in a track meet anytime soon, but he will certainly bowl you over; according to stats website Pro Football Focus, Tolbert has 116 yards after contact, more than half of his rushing total of 213 yards.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0
coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
11/14/2013 01:06 PM

The last time Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took the field, they put up the highest point total in the NFL this year.

It's highly unlikely they will come close to duplicating that effort Monday night.

The Patriots will go on the road to face a Carolina Panthers team that has won five straight and flexed its defensive muscles by allowing the NFC's fewest points.

It hasn't been an easy season for Brady, who owns the lowest passer rating of his career at 82.7 and has been frustrated often by an inexperienced group of targets that has dropped 12.2 percent of catchable balls for the league's worst mark.

New England (7-2) put aside those problems for a 55-31 rout of Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 as Brady enjoyed season highs of 432 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Now the AFC East leaders come out of their bye to face the Panthers, who are yielding 12.8 points per game and held defending NFC champion San Francisco without a touchdown in last Sunday's 10-9 road victory.

"They're one of the best defenses in the league," Brady said. "We have to play really well. I think our execution has to be at its best."

Carolina (6-3) has outscored foes 140-57 during its longest win streak since a six-game run Oct. 3-Nov. 13, 2005. Linebacker Luke Kuechly earned conference defensive player of the week honors for an 11-tackle performance as part of a defense that sacked Colin Kaepernick six times.

The second-year player out of Boston College now gets his first chance to face Brady.

"Tom Brady is a very cerebral guy, he's been around a while, he knows where he's going with the ball, he's smart, he understands defenses," Kuechly said. "So we've just got to do a good job of playing our job, doing our responsibilities and make sure we're in the right spot."

Kuechly and unheralded safety Mike Mitchell each have three of the Panthers' 13 interceptions that tie the club for the league's most.

The Patriots have also been boosted by Stevan Ridley's six rushing touchdowns over his last four games. He will face a Carolina front that allows an average of 82.0 yards on the ground for the NFL's second-lowest mark.

Just getting Brady enough snaps could be a challenge since Cam Newton has guided an offense that leads the NFL in time of possession at 33:48 per game heading into his first matchup with the Patriots.

''He's playing very efficiently. He does a good job,'' said Patriots coach Bill Belichick about Newton. ''He's obviously a threat with the ball in his hands to run. He can make all the throws. He can put the ball on the sideline."

Carolina has rushed for an average of 120.4 yards during its win streak while the Patriots allow 128.2 yards per game on the ground for the league's third-worst mark.

Belichick believes his team will be prepared for Newton having already faced Buffalo's EJ Manuel and the Jets' Geno Smith.

''I think that a lot of the plays that Carolina runs we've seen from Buffalo and the Jets,'' Belichick said. ''The fact that we have seen some of those plays, we've worked on the basic blocking schemes and how to fit on them, where everybody needs to be."

Newton owns a 67.4 completion percentage over the last five games. He has helped the Panthers convert a league-high 36.4 percent of third downs of at least 10 yards, and they are third on all third downs at 46.2 percent.

He'll try to avoid a New England pass rush that has produced 29 sacks to match Carolina and is led by Chandler Jones' 8 1/2.

Jones is tied for seventh in the league in sacks with the Panthers' Charles Johnson, who forms an impressive pass rushing duo with fellow defensive end Greg Hardy (six sacks).

''That's our style of defense,'' Hardy said. ''We dominate. We take what we want. We do what we want.''

Those pass rushers have clearly been helped by the additions of rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

''We're playing young guys who have learned very quickly,'' coach Ron Rivera said. ''These guys know what we want them to do.''

Both teams have been very disciplined with New England committing 41 accepted penalties and Carolina 44 to rank in the NFL's top six.

Brady is 13-4 on Monday nights, an event the veteran still enjoys.

"Monday Night Football is always pretty cool, especially when you play a really good team on Monday Night Football," he said. "It's a fun night."

The Patriots have won three of five all-time meetings, including 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0
coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
11/15/2013 12:50 PM

What's better than putting together a signature win?

How about back-to-back signature wins?

The up-and-coming Carolina Panthers have a chance to do exactly that in front of a national television audience when they host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football."

The Patriots, who had a bye in Week 10, will look to continue the offensive success they had a week earlier when New England scored 55 points and racked up 610 yards of total offense in a 55-31 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brady threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in that one, his 15th game with at least four touchdowns and no interceptions.

The Pats -- not surprisingly -- are a perfect 15-0 in those contests.

Three New England receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark to help the Patriots (7-2) move to 5-0 at home this season. Rob Gronkowski garnered a career-high nine receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown, Aaron Dobson had two scores on a five-catch, 130-yard effort and Danny Amendola totaled 122 yards and a touchdown on four grabs.

"It felt great out there," Gronkowski said. "It was important for us to play this way. Until now, we hadn't been clicking for all four quarters."

Stevan Ridley added a pair of rushing touchdowns while compiling 115 yards on 26 carries.

"There's a lot of football left to be played," said New England head coach Bill Belichick. "We just need to focus on what we're doing and who we're playing and try to go out there and play better than we've played, try to improve and try to win. We're not looking at anybody but Carolina right now."

The Panthers will be aiming for their sixth consecutive win behind a defense which has been one of the NFL's best, allowing 115 points, the second-fewest in the league behind only 9-0 Kansas City (111).

Carolina is the only team in the NFL to rank in the top five in total defense (second), rushing yards allowed (second) and passing yards allowed (tied for fourth).

Last weekend, the Panthers held San Francisco to nine points and 151 total net yards in a 10-9 victory. Entering that contest, the 49ers had averaged 34.8 points and 357.6 total net yards per game over their previous five contests.

"Everybody's on the same page," said Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson, who ranks second in the NFC with 8 1/2 sacks. "When everybody is on the same page, buying into the scheme, you're going to end up being successful. It's all about being a team and playing as one."

The Carolina defense held the 49ers to a paltry 2-for-13 conversion rate on third down and recorded six sacks.

DeAngelo Williams' touchdown run late in the first half was the only time either team found the end zone, and it helped the Panthers stay within a game of New Orleans in the NFC South race.

"There were a lot of good things that went on in this game today," said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. "The defense did step up and play really well and I thought some of the things we did offensively, especially when we had good field position, were really good."

The Patriots have won three of their five all-time meetings with Carolina, including a thrilling 32-29 win in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0
coleryan Posts:13959 Followers:20
11/15/2013 12:50 PM

Brady really hadn't been himself this season until exploding against the Steelers, thanks in large part to the uncertainty at the skill positions. The fact that Gronkowski and Amendola are now healthy and Dobson seems to getting it has to be a scary thought for most opposing defenses.

"They have a one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, a great coach, and now they are getting some players back. It is a tremendous challenge for our football team," Rivera said.

"Tom Brady is a very cerebral guy, he's been around a while, he knows where he's going with the ball, he's smart, he understands defenses," linebacker Luke Kuechly added. "So we've just got to do a good job of playing our job, doing our responsibilities and make sure we're in the right spot."

The Panthers, of course, aren't most defenses. Since taking over the middle linebacker position in Week 5 of the 2012 season, Kuechly, who earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his effort against San Francisco, has spearheaded an amazingly consistent group.

The imposing front seven is allowing a measly 82.0 yards per game on the ground.

"They're one of the best defenses in the league," Brady said. "We have to play really well. I think our execution has to be at its best."

The Carolina offense isn't nearly as formidable save for dynamic quarterback Cam Newton, who has thrown 13 touchdowns and rushed for four more so far this season. Veteran receiver Steve Smith and tight end Greg Olsen have been Newton's favorite targets but neither will pop the top off a defense at this stage.

Newton, though, seems to have realized that he can live to play another down so to speak and punting the football isn't the worst thing in the world with his defense. Taking care of the football is paramount and Newton has done so in recent weeks.

"He's playing very efficiently. He does a good job," Belichick said when asked about Newton. "He's obviously a threat with the ball in his hands to run. He can make all the throws.:

The Pats' defense has been hampered by injuries, especially up the middle where defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, along with linebacker Jerod Mayo have been lost to season-ending injuries.

That said Belichick believes his team is ready for Newton because they have already faced a few other mobile QBs like Buffalo's EJ Manuel and the Jets' Geno Smith.

"I think that a lot of the plays that Carolina runs we've seen from Buffalo and the Jets," Belichick said. "The fact that we have seen some of those plays, we've worked on the basic blocking schemes and how to fit on them, where everybody needs to be."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-8-0