Nov 3, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 55-31. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers: Initial Thoughts On MNF Clash

Nov 10, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell (21) gestures to kiss his bicep after a sack against San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the second quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

When the 2013 NFL schedule was released earlier this year, many looked at this tilt with the Panthers as an easy, “warm-up” game for the enormous Sunday Night Football meeting with the Denver Broncos, next week. However the Panthers will be riding a five game winning streak as they welcome the Pats to town, and I expect a tough, close game this Monday night. Here are a few quick thoughts on this marquee matchup.

1. Panthers Defense Is Legit

Carolina went into last week’s game with the San Francisco 49ers ranked third in overall defense, and  second in points allowed. Despite these terrific numbers, many football experts were still skeptical of this unit, because of the lack of offensive talent that they had faced. But I think that they silenced the critics, as they held the Niners to 151 total yards, and nine points. I watched most of this game, and I came away thinking that their front seven could possibly be the best in the NFL. This group sacked  Colin Kaepernick six times, including a big one late in the fourth quarter that helped seal the win. New England better be ready for this ferocious group, because things could get ugly in a hurry for Tom Brady and company, if that defensive front isn’t neutralized.

2. Will Aqib Talib Finally Return To The Field?

The Patriots top cornerback went down in week six versus the Saints, and he hasn’t seen the field since. I think that Talib could probably have gone last week in Pittsburgh, but given the fact that their bye week was coming up, Belichick and company elected to rest him another week. Carolina doesn’t exactly have the most explosive passing game, but having Talib back will help regardless, and it will be interesting to see if New England decides to give him the okay.

3. How Will Offense Respond To 55 Point Outing?

Tom Brady and the Pats offense finally broke out of their season long slump last week, putting a 50 spot on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everything seemed to come together for New England, and it gave all of ‘Patriot Nation’ hope for things to come. With the dangerous Carolina defense coming up, I can’t think of a better test for this offense to have, coming off of their explosive outing against the Steelers. Every facet of the offense will be tested, especially the offensive line and the Patriots running game. Carolina’s secondary is solid, but it is not on the same planet as their front seven. I am excited to see how Brady and company handle this defense, particularly up front, possibly giving the Pats the opportunity to take advantage of some matchups in the back end.

4. Sopoaga’s Impact

Newly acquired defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga played 26 of the 75 possible defensive snaps last week against the Steelers, and in those few plays that he was on the field, he made the kind of impact that the Patriots were looking for when they traded for him. Rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones have done a good job on the inside, but it was obvious that New England would need some help in there if they were to make a run into the playoffs. Sopoaga is a big guy that can take up blockers (much like Wilfork did), and on multiple occasions last week, he did exactly this. The Panthers represent a much bigger challenge on the ground than Pittsburgh did, as they boast four guys that can run the ball effectively (DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart, and of course, Cam Newton). I am intrigued at the notion of Sopoaga going up against a rushing attack like Carolina’s, and I am hopeful that he will be able to help the Patriots slow them down.

Next Patriots Game View full schedule »
Friday, Aug 2222 Aug7:30Carolina PanthersBuy Tickets

Tags: Carolina Panthers New England Patriots

  • Pingback: Sorting the Sunday Pile: Panthers emerge as Super Bowl contender –

  • Pingback: eSports » Sorting the Sunday Pile: Panthers emerge as Super Bowl contender –

  • Andy

    The game is at Carolina dumb***

    • Cyrus Geller

      While it is no excuse for making that mistake, I would like to point out that I am not a journalist. I am a blogger, and my job is to write my opinions. Again, I apologize for the mistake.

  • Andy

    “However the Panthers will be riding a five game winning streak as they
    roll into Foxboro, and I expect a tough, close game this Monday night.”

    “With the dangerous Carolina defense coming into town, I can’t think of a
    better test for this offense to have, coming off of their explosive
    outing against the Steelers.”

    Do you actually do this for a living? You don’t even know where the game is being played. Poor excuse for a journalist.

  • ahrcshaw

    It is still a test for the Panthers as usual and will be a good game to see. Tom Brady is strictly a pocket passer, has no mobility at all, and quite frankly hates to be hit. The Patriots will have to make adjustments keeping more blockers in the backfield for Brady to get his passing down which also means he will be throwing his patented drops to someone out of the backfield, which fits right into the power of the Panthers defense. Like all the teams the Panthers have played the defense will hold them back to where they are throwing for 3rd and long were again the Panther defense excels. Like NO, I do not think the Panthers will hold the score down in this game, so the Panthers offense is going to have to step up, which I also think will happen as the Patriots do not have that good of a defense.

    Recap: Panthers control the clock and win. Go Panthers and pound those NE Patriots.

  • qpwoeio

    Somebody should tell you that Monday’s game is in Charlotte, not Foxboro. Wouldn’t want you to show up expecting a game!

    • Cyrus Geller

      My mistake. Will have that fixed.

  • Pingback: The Patriot Way - New England Patriots News 11/12