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The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers will meet up in Charlotte this Friday evening in the third week of the NFL preseason. Last season, the Patriots made it all the way to the Super Bowl before losing a thrilling game to the Philadelphia Eagles. Most of that team in back for the 2018 season. The Carolina Panthers went 11-5 in the regular season to grab a Wild Card spot in the postseason. They made a quick exit, losing to the Saints in the first round of the playoffs.
So far this preseason, the Patriots are 2-0. They took down the Redskins by a score of 26-17 then defeated the Eagles in a Super Bowl rematch, 37-20. The first game featured three rushing touchdowns and non-passing from the Patriots while the second included three passing and none rushing. The Panthers have also won their first two preseason games over the Bills and Dolphins. Christian McCaffrey has shined with a rushing touchdown in each game and making himself available as a receiver out of the backfield.
Tom Brady returns for a big day
Last week in the Patriots tiny speck of revenge over the Eagles, the world got its first glimpse of Tom Brady. Good news; he looked like Tom Brady. During his time on the field, Brady went 19/26 with 172 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. With Brandin Cooks gone and no superstar receiver to target, Brady spread the ball around. Four players ended the day with four or more receptions. Chris Hogan who tops the depth chart, hauled in five passes for 25 yards and a touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson has looked comfortable with his new team and he picked up 51 yards and a touch down off four catches to improve on a strong showing in Week 1.
Perhaps the most effective offensive piece last week was James White out of the backfield. He did not play in the first game of the preseason but made up for it against Philadelphia. White carried the ball four times and picked up 31 yards for a 7.8 yards per carry average. He was even better as a receiver, grabbing six receptions, including a touchdown and finishing with a team-high 61 yards. With Jeremy Hill looking very good through the first two weeks of preseason, the Patriots have established a dangerous backfield that can do it all.
As always, the New England kicker, Stephen Gostkowski has been pretty much automatic this preseason. He has nailed all four of his field goal attempts and has even ventured out past 50 yards with no problems. Adrian Clayborn looked well after a quiet week against Washington. He made a beautiful move to get through the Eagles line and take down Nick Foles. Patrick Chung was also excellent once again, securing four tackles and a sack on the day.
McCaffrey’s sophomore campaign in Carolina looks promising
Panthers starter, Cam Newton has been very accurate in terms of completion percentage so far this preseason but it has not translated into big numbers. He is 6/9 and 9/12 in his two appearances but only has a total of 173 yards, one touchdown, and a pick to show for it. The third-string quarterback, Taylor Heinicke has shown some potential, with 121 and 88 yards in his two appearances. He totals one touchdown and one interception as well with only six total incompletions.
With the Carolina passing game looking no more than average, their backfield has been forced to step things up. Leading the way is Christian McCaffrey who has looked outstanding both running and catching the football. He broke a 71-yard touchdown run last week against the Dolphins and totaled 92 yards on just five total carries. He also added 28 yards on four receptions. Elijah Hood and Cameron Artis-Payne each added another rushing touchdown to hint that this Panthers backfield will be deep and effective this season. Cam Newton did not make much happen in terms of rushing this preseason but he is sure to be more mobile when it counts.
Just like the offense, the Panthers run defense looks solid but they could use some work in the air. They allowed well over 300 yards to the Bills receivers and were very close to the 300 mark again at the hands of the Dolphins. Shaq Thompson and Corn Elder are the two Panthers secondary members that have been able to secure picks this preseason. Opposing quarterbacks have simply been given too much time to throw against the Panthers. They have only secured three total sacks as a team over two full games.
- No trends available
- 11-1 ATS in last 12 games on grass
- 14-3 ATS in last 17 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With Tom Brady and the Patriots receivers getting a solid amount of reps, they are hard to bet against. Brady was able to spread the ball around the field and hit White out of the backfield. He and Hoyer could both have great days against this Panthers team that has not shown us much in terms of defending the pass. With the lack of depth in Carolina’s pass offense, this is a big mismatch.
The running game is more closely contested but adding White into the mix with Hill and Gillislee has proven to be too much for opposing defenses. This could be the best rushing attack for the Patriots in quite some time with the tandem of Hill and White. McCaffrey has looked great for Carolina but we have yet to see him against a top defense. If the Patriots can put a stop to Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers will not have many more answers.
Prediction: New England Patriots +2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The Patriots offense already looks like a well oiled machine and with the starting lineups getting more playing time in weeks two and three, we could see them put up some big numbers. Tom Brady looked great in his first game and looks very comfortable with this receiving crew. Cam Newton of course is also always a candidate to put up big numbers so do not expect a defensive struggle here.
Prediction: Over 42.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
New England has the pieces to put up over 22 points every time they step on the field. They surpassed that mark in their first two games and this one will be no different. Their ability to score in the red zone, especially on the ground is too much to ignore. This is one of the most complete offenses in football.
Prediction: Patriots total points over 22 -115
Half-Time Side Pick
The Patriots will get the lead if they can stop McCaffrey. That is much easier said than dome, but if they can do it, they will have the advantage anywhere. With Cam Newton staying away from running to stay safe in preseason, he is not as much of a threat and the Panthers are not the same team.
Prediction: New England Patriots -110
Half-Time Total Bet
Even without their starters, these teams have some very dangerous offensive pieces. McCaffrey should get some playing time before CJ Anderson, another capable back takes over. Tom Brady should also get a series or two in the first half then hand the ball to Brian Hoyer, a former NFL starter. These defenses are not in for an easy day.
Prediction: Over 24.5