The New England Patriots will head to Carolina tonight to play the defending NFC Champions in Week 3 of the NFL Preseason. The Panthers got worked in the Super Bowl against the Broncos, with Cam Newton struggling against the best defense in the NFL. Newton was criticized for not playing a little more aggressively, notably, failing to dive for a live fumble on the ground. It looked like he was going to go for it, but then he pulled back instead of risking an injury, or something?
Not sure what was going on in his head, but despite all that, Panthers’ fans have to feel fortunate that Cam Newton is in their corner. Let’s face it, without Cam the Panthers wouldn’t have made it to the Super Bowl. The Panthers’ offense could have been a lot better in that game, as they looked confused against the Denver defensive unit, but Newton’s entire body of work throughout the season was impressive.
Newton passed for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. Newton’s previous touchdown high was 24 touchdowns in 2013, and it was his lowest interception total of his career. A lot of that won’t be remembered though, because of what happened in the Super Bowl. However, if you had Newton on your fantasy team, you are still praising him for last season. Note that Cam also ran for 636 yards and another 10 touchdowns, so in total he was responsible for 45 touchdowns on the year for the Panthers.
Josh Norman followed the money and left for Washington, so he will be a guy the Panthers will need to replace in 2016. Nevertheless, the Panthers should be the class of the NFC again. If Cam doesn’t have a setback this season, they should be just fine. Luke Kuechly, the heart of the Carolina defense, will be in his fifth year with the Panthers and has shown no signs of slowing down. As long as they avoid the injury bug, the Panthers’ defense shouldn’t drop off all too much.
In what is the dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Panthers will be going against a Brady-less Patriots’ squad. And no, it really isn’t because of his suspension, it’s because he apparently cut his hand on a pair of scissors. Not sure I’m buying that, but it looks like we won’t see Brady until Week 5.
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers NFL Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. Panthers -3.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Patriots vs. Panthers Pick:
Jimmy Garoppolo will assume the starting duties for the Patriots will Brady serves his suspension. There have been mixed reviews with Garoppolo. He plays the part sometimes, and other times he doesn’t look like he’s ready to be a starting quarterback. While it is only preseason, this will be his biggest start as a professional player. In a couple of weeks against the Arizona Cardinals on SNF, that will of course take over as the most important start of his career. But with about three quarters of action against a viable defense, we’re going to see what Garoppolo does.
Is this going to be a full playbook for Garoppolo to operate with? Absolutely not. The Patriots always hold their cards close to them in the preseason and don’t really try anything too interesting. The third game of the preseason is the dress rehearsal, but you see some vanilla play calling from them here.
This is the third season in a row that the Patriots and Panthers have played in this game. The previous two results went in favor of the Patriots, a 30-7 win, and then a close 17-16 win. Brady played in those two games, though. Garoppolo is going to get some good exposure in this game to an above average NFL defense. I think the motivation factor, albeit a small one, is going to be on the Panthers’ side. The Panthers might be interested in roughing up the young Garoppolo who will get the most game action of his career tonight. Cam Newton vs. Jimmy Garoppolo looks like a mismatch. The Panthers by a touchdown looks about right.
PICK: PANTHERS -3.5 (-110)