Week 3 of the NFL Preseason kicks off on Thursday night with six games on the card. The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots are in action at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough for what people refer to as a dress rehearsal. I don’t know so much about that in this instance. Tom Brady may or may not play in this game. It’s not much of a dress rehearsal without Brady taking a snap.
Brady has said he wants to get some snaps in the preseason, but Bill Belichick, in typical Belichick fashion, hasn’t revealed much. Despite not playing in the preseason, the Patriots have looked quite good. Depth doesn’t look like a problem for the Patriots, especially for their defense which is going to be good in the regular season.
The Patriots enter with wins of 31-3 over the Lions and 22-17 over the Titans in the preseason. They looked sharp and crisp in both games on the road. The Lions didn’t come close to scoring a touchdown in that contest, as the Patriots came close to pitching a shutout. Note that Brady hasn’t played a down, so they did just fine with the backups playing.
Brian Hoyer has plenty of experience in the NFL, so if he gets the start here, it’s not going to be anything new for him. Cam Newton hasn’t played in the preseason as well. He is coming off a shoulder injury which severely limited his ability to zip the ball around in the second-half of 2018.
Newton will get a chance to shake the rust off against the Pats in this one. He played through the injury when he probably shouldn’t have. The Panthers were not a playoff contender, so pushing Cam was not a good move. Ron Rivera has said that Newton will play in three or four series against the Pats.
We likely won’t know until just before the game with Belichick is going to do with Brady, but they are in good company with two quality backups. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Patriots pick for Week 3 of the NFL Preseason.
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Panthers vs. Patriots Pick:
This is an opportunity for Cam to shake the rust off and familiarize himself with an NFL field again. Nothing is going to be too exotic for the offense in this spot. The Panthers opened the preseason with a win against the Bears on the road, 23-13, and a loss at home against the Bills. It’s become abundantly clear that the Panthers are going to have no success without Newton.
The quarterback play behind Newton is not very encouraging. The Panthers drafted Will Grier, a gunslinger out of West Virginia. He put up monster numbers in college, but that was as a shotgun passer in the Big 12. Not every quarterback can go to the NFL and immediately produce like Pat Mahomes or Baker Mayfield. In fact, there are far more Big 12 QB busts than guys that have found success.
The transition is usually difficult for quarterbacks playing in that type of spread offense. For Mahomes, he gets by with his ability to scramble and locate an open receiver. Grier does not have the same ability to run around and make something out of nothing. The Chiefs were smart as well by implementing elements of Mahomes’ offense at Texas Tech.
This offense in Carolina is built around Cam Newton, obviously. Grier is going to have to show a lot more before he has offensive coordinators structuring a playbook around his skillset. Grier is coming off a shoddy performance, as he passed for 75 yards with an interception on 10-of-19 passing. I don’t have much faith in Kyle Allen and Tyler Heinicke against this deep New England defense as well.
Who I do have faith in his Patriots’ rookie Jarrett Stidham. I liked Stidham when he was in college when he was one of the few quarterbacks to figure out the Alabama defense and I still like his outlook. Stidham was talked about often during the college football season, but when it was done, everyone seemed to forget about him. The Patriots scooped him up in the fourth-round and so far so good in New England.
Stidham passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against the Lions and then followed it up with another marquee performance against the Titans. Stidham torched the Titans for 193 yards and a touchdown in a 22-17 win. Spreads are covered and blown by 4th quarter play in the preseason. At home on Thursday night, I have more confidence in the Patriots’ backups to outperform the Panthers in this one.