The New England Patriots will be facing a run heavy team in the Carolina Panthers Monday Night.
It will be a tough test for a run defense that hasn’t fared well without their two top starters, Vince Wilfork, and Jerod Mayo. But this is where the trade for DT Isaac Sopoaga comes in to play and see how well worth it it was.
Which leads me to the 3 biggest matchups for the game.
1. Pats DL vs Panthers RBs
– Can New England stop the run? That is the most crucial question going into this game. Sopoaga and the kids on the line have to step up and play big in this game. The Pats will deal with DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, and Jonathan Stewart. Very capable runners, fast, tough runners, and hit the holes quickly. Toughest task on defense will be to stop the run. It is a must win for New England.
2. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones vs Cam Newton
– I fear Newton’s running ability more than his throwing. He has 13 passing touchdowns with 8 interceptions and 4 rushing touchdowns. If New England’s rushers can keep Newton in the pocket and make him a passer they will be successful on defense. The Pats can NOT let Newton become a runner in this game. It will be all about containment for New England and their pass rushers.
3. Patriots receivers vs Panthers secondary
– Big matchup here. The OL will have their hands full so the receivers have to continue doing a good job getting open. Like I have stated before, the bad protection on Brady isn’t always the OL’s fault. Sometimes it is the receivers not getting open fast enough and that has been a problem in games this year. Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Rob Gronkowski have to get open like they did against Pittsburgh. If that can happen it should help out New England. This matchup is an intriguing one and should be a great battle to watch.