The reigning NFC Champion Panthers host the Patriots at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 PM. ET. on Friday, August 26th.
The New England Patriots are coming off a disappointing 2015 season. They made it to the AFC Championship game, before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champions; the Denver Broncos. In that game, the Patriots offensive line and running backs failed to protect Brady from the swarming Denver defense. Then there’s the loss of Tom Brady over deflate gate. Brady will start the season by serving a four game suspension for his alleged role in the controversy. There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Patriots 2016 campaign.
The Panthers enter week three of the preseason with a lot of expectations. Even though it’s the preseason, week three is generally regarded as the last tune up for the starters before the regular season. The starters usually play deep into the third quarter before the backups come in, and finish up the game. Cam Newton will face a stout Patriots’ defensive unit that’s built solidly at each level.
Against the Titans, Newton threw for 162 yards and a touchdown before exiting the game. He completed a little less than 67% of his passes. Against the Patriots, Newton will need to get rid of the ball quickly in the pocket. Newton is an extremely athletic quarterback, but it’s only the preseason. Don’t expect him to make many plays with his feet.
Although he may not start, the expectation is that Tom Brady will play this week. Belichick has stated that his goal is to prepare Garoppollo for the first four games of the regular season. Against the Bears, Garoppollo completed 16 passes on 21 attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown. Garoppollo has performed well in Brady’s absence. It’s only the preseason, though. In his career, he’s never started a regular season game. Belichick might opt for Brady to start the game, but Garoppollo might benefit most from the extra reps against a quality opponent.
Players to Watch
Who will replace Josh Norman as the alpha in the Panthers’ secondary? Norman is an elite corner that brought an edge to the Panthers’ secondary. The top defenses in the NFL rely on “shutdown corners” to take away a side of the field or to take away a team’s top target. Even with Norman now playing in Washington, the Panthers are still a special defense.
The Panthers’ corner position will feature much inexperience.The Panthers have started two rookies at corner this preseason. Veteran experience in the secondary will help, but expect the rookies to have some early season struggles. Starting safety, Kurt Coleman, recently signed a three year extension. Coleman’s presence over the top, along with star linebacker Luke Kueckly, and a stout defensive line should help to ease the pressure on the rookies.
The Patriots rolled through the early part of last season to a 10-0 start. Then, they proceeded to lose four of their next six regular season games before falling to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. At times last year, the Patriots’ offensive line struggled to protect and struggled to run the ball. Brady was as effective as ever, however, the run game suffered mightily. If the Patriots are to win without Brady, as well as improve upon their dreadful rushing totals, they’ll need solid play from their linemen.
A player to watch on the Patriots offensive line is Joe Thuney. Through the first two preseason games, Thuney has made two starts at left guard. While Belichick hasn’t confirmed it yet, it wouldn’t be a surprise that if Thuney starts in week three he’ll be a starter going into the season.
Panthers Vs Patriots Preseason Betting Lines
The Patriots are still working out the kinks with Garoppollo and the Panthers are the home team. Expect a close game with a lot of defense. Take the Panthers to cover.
Play: Panthers -3.5 @ BetOnline.ag