PATRIOTS: BEWARE OF DANGEROUS PANTHERS
Monday Update: Good News – Vereen & Talib both are active for tonight’s game. Brandon Bolden is out, but both Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce are in.
Welcome To Charlotte, NC
Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina. In 2012, the estimated population was 775,202, making it the 17th largest city in the US. It has become a major U.S. financial center and is now the second largest banking center in the United States. It’s called The “Queen City” and is usually a really nice place to visit…unless you are there to play football!
Charlotte is “… the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a zoo,” so all their “Wild Animals” run free in an enclosure known as Bank Of America Stadium! That just happens to be the home of the (6-3) Carolina Panthers (Don’t ever confuse a Panther with a Jaguar), and where the (7-2) Patriots play football Monday night.
The Pats will be playing at Carolina for just the third time and for the first time since 2005.
PATRIOTS POST BYE-WEEK NEWS
The good news is the Patriots had no new injuries last weekend (oh yeah, they didn’t play did they). The way the season has gone so far, not playing doesn’t assure the injury bug won’t hit. Alfonzo Dennard did suffer a knee injury late in the Steeler’s game is out for tonight’s game.
The bye-week couldn’t have come at a better time and now it’s time to play football again. For the 1st time in 2013 Tom Brady has all the weapons he needs to move into overdrive…Gronk, Amendola, Ridley, Vereen, Edelman & Dobson. That is the most formidable offense Carolina has faced this year.
- Shane (Not Ben) Vereen has been added back to the active roster. His return against a very strong Carolina defense will give Tom Brady the quick
outlet he hasn’t had since Vereen went down after the 1st game of the season. In case you forgot, the RB accounted for 158 of New England’s 431 net yards in the 23-21 victory over the Buffalo Bills. He was dangerous both on the ground (101 rushing yards) and in the air (7 receptions for 58 yards)…and he played much of the game with a fractured wrist (What the heck, if Bruin Patrice Bergeron could play in the Stanley Cup playoff series in the shape he was in, why not?).
- Tom Brady desperately needed the extra time off to recuperate from the 26 sack beating he has taken in the first 9 games. He won’t be 100% (no player is after 9 games), but should be refreshed and is looking forward to playing again on MNF. Why you may ask,…well, here’s why…He has a 13-4 record when playing on Monday Night & has won 10 of his last 11!.
“I think our execution has to be at its best. It’ll be fun. It’s Monday night” Brady said. “It’s getting later in the year. These games are more and more important. We’ll see what we can do.”
- The time-off also gave the offensive line time to regroup and, hopefully, figure out who is blocking who (Or is it whom?). If the Pats are going to continue to have a successful season this group needs to play up to their potential. Marcus Cannon has filled in admirably, but Logan Mankins (7 sacks) & Dan Connolly have had sub-par seasons and Ryan Wendell has looked lost at times.
- Brady has been sacked 26 times this season, seventh most in the NFL. The 2.88 sacks per game New England is allowing is the most Brady has ever suffered, more than the 2.73 sacks per game he took in his 1st season playing with the Patriots!
- The weapons – Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley – are all rested and chomping at the bit.
- Josh McDaniels had two weeks to study the Panther’s and now has a chance to prove he can beat a good defense with an effective game plan. He had this to say about Vereen “He definitely did make a big impact in game one…I don’t know if we can expect him to do that right off the bat in his first game back, whenever that is.”
- It is a little surprising to see both Kenbrell Thompkins & Josh Boyce active for tonight’s game. Brandon Bolden is out.
- Bill Belichick is 10-3 (Thank you @CLNS_Patriots) coming out of the bye-week as the Patriots head coach.
Reasons to get excited:
Since Belichick became Patriots head coach in 2000, New England is 84-21 in the second half of the season, and has gone 8-0 in the second half four times during his tenure and 7-1 three times.
In the past 3 years the Patriots are a combined 24-1 in the second half of the regular season. They were 8-0 in the second half of the regular season in both 2010 and 2011 and were 7-1 last year.
WHAT’S UP WITH THESE PANTHERS?
PATRIOTS: BEWARE OF DANGEROUS PANTHERS.
The Panthers are coming off their biggest win of the season, as they completely shut down the 49er’s offense in a 10-9 road victory. Defense is their game and they play it as well as anyone in the NFL. The Carolina defense is v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y good…in fact, it’s better than that!
- They are 2nd in the NFL, allowing only 12.8 points per game.
- They are in the Top 5 in all key defensive statistics. 283.3 Yards (2nd), 201.3 passing (5th) and 82 rushing (2nd)
- The Panther’s have 29 sacks, while giving up 26.
The Panthers star middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (Former BC Eagle) earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors Tuesday for his performance against San Francisco, making him the third Panther to win the award this year. Carolina’s Defensive ends Charles Johnson (8.5 sacks) and Greg Hardy (6.0) make up one of the best tandems at rushing the quarterback.
Former Pat great Tedy Bruschi really likes the Panthers and picks them to win 28-27.
The Offense is OK, but not quite as efficient as the defense.
- They are 28th in the league in passing (195.6 YPG).
- 20th in total yards per game (323.6)
- The Panthers are in the middle-of-the-pack in scoring, averaging just under 24 points a game (15th in NFL)
- 34 year old Steve (I’m always angry) Smith continues to be their leading receiver with 42 receptions for 450 yards (10.7 YPC) and 3 TDs. He has spent his entire 13 year with the Panthers.
- The running game is the strength of this Panther offense. They are able to control the tempo of the game. In fact, they lead the NFL in time of possession (33:48).
- DeAngelo Williams is averaging 4.2 yard per carry while gaining 565 yards on 135 carries.
- Cam Newton is learning to be more disciplined, but still has rushed the ball 62 times for 268 yards. Meanwhile, he is completing almost 63% of his passes for 1,970 yards (a low 7.3 yards per attempt) with 13 TDs and 8 INTs. He has an 88.3 QBR and, like Brady, has been sacked 26 times.
- He has not been very successful against good teams.. His career record vs teams with a winning record is 4-14!
PATRIOT’S DEFENSE CAN CONTAIN THE PANTHERS
With the anticipated return of Aqib Talib, (the best CB in the NFL when healthy) the Patriots secondary should be able to contain the Carolina air attack. His return could be somewhat offset with Dennard & Steve Gregory out. Carolina’s offense isn’t known for making the “Big” play this year as they have become more of a “grind-it-out” team. If you can get an early lead, which is no easy task since the Panthers have not allowed a TD & only allowed 8 points in the 1st quarter this season, you can force them out of their game plan.
The key will be stopping their 10th ranked ground (128 YPG) game and not letting them control the games tempo. This has been the Pats Achilles heal all season, and no one knows what to expect game-to-game. In his press conference Belichick said he “can’t think of another team with that much depth in their run game” “… with 3 good backs and Newton.”
Since a lot of their ground yardage is gained by Newton, the defense can’t turn their back when covering receivers or lose containment. Newton is by far the best of the dual-threat quarterbacks the Pats have faced this year.
He has been sacked 26 times, so can be taken down, and has been known to make bad decisions when hurried.
SOME “FEEL GOOD” FACTS
- With Vereen playing it will be the 1st time ever that Vereen, Ridley, Gronkowski, Amendola and Dobson will play together.
- Gronkowski has 39 touchdown receptions in 46 career games. He has an opportunity to become the fastest tight end to 40 touchdown receptions. Antonio Gates from San Diego has the current record, reaching 40 touchdown receptions in 71 games.
- Patriots have now forced a turnover in 36 straight games dating back to 2011. They are +9 and Carolina +8 in turnover ratios.
- Despite limited playing time early in the season, Brandon Spikes now leads the team with 84 total tackles. He needs 16 tackles to secure his second straight 100- tackle season (He had a career-high of 128 total tackles in 2012).
- New England owns an NFL-best 36-13 (.735) record in the month of November since 2001
- The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to finish with a record of .500 or better in each of the last 12 years. A victory over Carolina this week would guarantee the Patriots a record of .500 or better for the 13 consecutive year.
- In case you forgot, New England defeated the Panthers 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
- Brady (3,992) needs eight completions to become the sixth NFL player to ever reach 4,000 completions.
- Stephen Gostkowski has nine field goals of 40 or more yards in 2013. He has scored in 100 consecutive games and needs to score Monday to tie Adam Vinatieri and John Smith for the team record, with 101 consecutive games scored
TIME TO “MAN-UP”
The offense will continue to gel despite the Panthers tremendous defense. A balanced pass & run attack will keep Carolina guessing, while the defense does just enough to keep Cam Newton in check.
The Pats won’t take this team lightly. They can’t be thinking ahead to Denver…and they know it! They will “Beware Of Dangerous Panthers” and come back to Foxboro with a tough 21-17 win.
Alright, after two weeks off, I’m ready…the team is ready…I know you are ready…for Patriot’s football! Now all we have to do is wait for Monday Night!
I welcome all comments, both pro & con (although I admit I prefer pro) and welcome your input. If you have a Twitter account you can follow me @SnowdonBob