By Mike DeVito
Match up break down by the numbers
|Carolina Offense||AVG.||NFL RANK||New England Defense||AVG||NFL RANK|
|Carolina Defense||New England Offense||NFL RANK|
KEYS TO THE GAME
When Carolina has the Football:
Stop the Run/QB Scrambles – Even though they have managed a 2-1 record, Carolina’s offense has been struggling so far this year, especially passing the football. With their number one receiver Kelvin Benjamin, coming off an injury, Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen on the IR and Cam Newton’s shoulder dinged up, look for the Panthers to lean heavy on the run game. This offense has a large playbook with many differ types of runs. One possible way for New England to slow down the Carolina run game is to line up in a 3-4 defense with Dave Harris and Hightower at the backer positions. This style of defense is great against the run and limits the types of runs an opposing offense can use. Star center Ryan Kalil has been ruled out with a neck injury, leaving an area of weakness for the Pats to exploit. Cam Newton may not be as athletic as the QB New England saw last week in Houston rookie Deshaun Watson, but he can still make a lot of plays with his feet. After struggling keeping Watson contained, it might be to New England’s benefit to keep a spy on Newton throughout the game.
When New England has the Football:
Get the Quick Passes/Screens Going Early – As a former defensive lineman, playing against New England was always frustrating because of how fast Tom Brady throws the football. In fact, he gets rid of the ball so quick that a lot of rushers will stop their rush if they don’t win on the first move because they get in the rhythm of Brady’s fast release. New England has struggled (and that’s being generous) protecting #12 so far this season. That being said, they have taken a lot of shots down field, especially to Cooks. It might benefit them to start the game early with some quick passes and screens, getting Amendola and that stable of running backs the ball, to slow down a very good defense/defensive line (Peppers, Johnson, Short, Addison, Lotuleli, etc.).
Prediction – New England 24 Carolina 17
Mike DeVito is a Maine alum and veteran of 9 season in the NFL with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. Mike is a guest host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live on DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.