What a difference a week makes, The Patriots head down to Carolina to meet the Panthers, a three point road favorite. That means they are supposed to win right? Right. Thanks I knew you guys would let me in on the intricacies of this point spread thing. But let’s digress. Before last week’s victory over San-LA-Diego the biggest hope here in Foxboro was maybe taking one out of the next three. Now those lowly aspirations have changed. A convincing win (garbage time TD’s don’t make it close) out on the west coast and a Panthers team that sits at the bottom of all but one offensive category in the league has the Pats in position to take three straight for the first time since the 2019 season. Here are My Monster Keys to do just that.
Stuff the run
Even with the absence of Christian Mccaffrey the Panthers are an above average rushing offense. Putting up 114 yards per game is good for 16th in the league. Now with McCaffrey practicing Bill and Company have one of the best weapons in football to worry about too. Stack the box and put this on Darnold’s arm.
Set that edge
I fully expect McCaffrey to be active on game day. If not a full go at least to see eighteen to twenty something snaps this Sunday. Both he and Chuba Hubbard are perfect pieces for the outside zone that the Panthers like to beat opponents down with. Set the edge – don’t give these backs clean air to run through.
Protect and Serve .
The Panthers defense gets into the backfield, they get to the QB, as of today they are fourth in the league in sacks with 24 and have an astounding 44 tackles for a loss on the season The reborn Patriots O-line is going to have to bring their A game on Sunday. Expect to see a lot of extra blockers on the field. Look for another big week of Brandon Bolden and company catching the ball out of the backfield.
Power and Exploitation
While we all like the deep ball, this week a take what they give you approach is the way to go. Crossers – Digs and Screens – Oh My. Get the ball out quick and get into second and short. Yes second and short. Do not let this Panthers D pin it’s ears back, or Mac will get his ears slapped back. Get the power game going: Jakob Johnson is going to be a busy man getting Damien Harris and Rhomondea Stevenson to the second level.. Bowl over the lite looks the Panthers use. Open up the Play Action for a shot or two.
Limit the Laundry – This Panthers crew doesn’t need the help. Keep it in front of the sticks.
Own Third Down – The Panthers are third in the league defensively on third down conversions; a lot of that is due to this fast front. As I said, second and short. On the other side of the ball they are not converting their own third downs, NO EXCUSES.
Win The Turnover Battle – an extra opportunity could be the game changer Sunday. You know Gilmore will be hunting.
Don’t Settle – Sixes not threes. Please
That’s it, my rabid readers. I see this game being closer than a lot of you out there. This is a quality Panthers squad that’s missed it’s go to guy for a good portion of the season. With McCaffrey back this is a very different team. And he is back. On the other hand I would welcome Sam Darnold under center. Bill has his number. He’s in his head.
As always you can follow/give me grief on Twitter @Tmurph207