For the first time this year, the Carolina Panthers are met with their old friend “low expectations”. Thanks mainly to a dismal offense that is currently ranked among the worst in the league, the Panthers have little hope against the New England Patriots. Throw in the fact that the game is in Foxboro and things look even more bleak.
Is there no hope? Can the Carolina Panthers pull off an upset over the Patriots of New England?
The answer lies within the Panthers’ run game versus the Patriots’ run defense. This is, by far, the most favorable match up for the Panthers. Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey are completely healthy for this game and have enough talent between the two to cause the New England defense fits. Center Ryan Kalil is out, but his replacement Tyler Larsen has played very well in his absence. All in all, the Panthers should have enough firepower to keep the ball on the ground.
For this to happen, the Panthers will need to stick to the run game and not abandon it. Unfortunately, the Panthers are trending down on running the ball over the past three weeks, each game having fewer rushes than the previous. It seems abandoning the run early is just what the Panthers do these days, despite spending the eighth pick overall on a running back this season.
As such, here is my prediction.
Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense do what they do best, score early. Once the Panthers are 10 points behind, they will start to panic. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula will then rely soley on the injured shoulder of Cam Newton who is no where near the player he once was. This will make Bill Belichick extremely happy. After an interception and a quick score, the game gets out of hand as the Panthers defense wears out. Ballgame.
I was wrong last week, I hope I am wrong this week. I just don’t see a win for the Panthers today.
Carolina Panthers – 13
New England Patriots – 27
Agree? Disagree? I will be talking about the game right here.