Have you been waiting all Sunday, all Sunday night, and all Monday to watch MNF featuring the Patriots versus the Panthers?
I have! And finally it is here and it’s getting closer to kickoff time between two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.
The Patriots will have a tough matchup with the Carolina Panthers and the game and points won’t come easy.
The Patriots kryptonite for the past few years have been physical teams with physical defenses. The Pats offense no matter how powerful they look always get stifled against a physical defense and Brady gets put on the ground a lot, leading to New England losing 90% of those games. Can they break that trend tonight and prove they are Super Bowl contenders?
On offense the Patriots must protect Tom Brady! That is the most important thing in this game, give him time to pick apart the defense because when Brady has time he shreds a defense.
The offensive line isn’t the only thing getting Brady hit, it is also the wide receivers not getting open fast enough. That is something that can’t happen to them tonight.
Can the Patriots handle a team getting in their face and roughing them up? Slinging them around and punching them right in the mouth? And can they handle a hostile crowd on the road and find a way to win like they have been doing all season in the confides of Gillette Stadium?
Championship teams do and tonight we will find out if New England is one of them.
The Patriots have to get Stevan Ridley involved in the game a lot too. The Pats offense is better when they attempt to run the ball and the best guy on the team to do that is Stevan Ridley. Feeding Ridley even when the run isn’t there is smart to keep the defense honest and try to hit them deep to their playmakers and create a passing attack. For New England tonight the run and pass game goes hand in hand and they can’t afford to abandon it too soon.
The Panthers defense is very tough against the run so it wouldn’t surprise me if the Pats come out throwing to try to soften them up in the middle and if they have success throwing early, the run could come in handy later on, especially in the second half.
On defense the biggest thing is to stop the Panthers from running.
The defense has to simply do their job and not get lost in the flashes of a spread – option run offense. Track the ball and hit the QB no matter what.
New England has to be physical on defense and get guts up the middle so Carolina’s runningbacks don’t go crazy in this game and play ball control.
Also New England will need to play containment defense on Cam Newton and keep him in the pocket and make him a passer only in this game.
They will need to make Newton run backwards and run sideways and close any lanes within the pocket. If Newton goes up the middle or takes angles in the middle to escape the pocket he is dangerous and will pick up massive yards. New England may not bring a lot of pressure against Newton and look to contain him and get sacks on him like that. If New England keeps him the pocket and keeps him from being a runner the defense should be fine.
I think Kyle Arrington will be on Steve Smith tonight because they match up well, at least on paper. Same size, height, and speed. Arrington stayed with Wallace and I think Arrington can stay with Smith. Arrington on LaFell is a mismatch I believe and LaFell will put up yards and points in a hurry if they don’t stop him. LaFell is a good 2nd option for Newton. If Arrington is on Smith and stops him it will go along way in shutting down the passing attack altogether especially with Talib back and on LaFell.
Aqib Talib is same size, height, and speed as LaFell and can take him out of the game completely.
This is what I think New England should do, doesn’t mean they will, and their game plan can change at any point in the game. But if Talib is on LaFell then I expect him to handle him and keep him shut down for the night.
Even though Dennard is out tonight I think the secondary should shut down the Panthers receiving weapons.
The Panthers also have a capable tight end in Greg Olsen and I’m curious to see how New England plans on shutting him down. New England can be vulnerable over the middle and on short passes and Olsen excels here so can the Pats stop him?
I’m venturing a guess that the Pats will mix and match on Olsen throughout the game with Hightower, Collins, and Harmon. They will try to box him and get physical with him, bumping him at the line to throw off his routes. If it works then New England can definitely shut down Carolina’s offense, if not could be a very close game.
The biggest question I want to see answer tonight is just how good is the rookie safety Duron Harmon.
I have been a fan since he was drafted but tonight he will start in place of Gregory and will be tested in a big way tonight. The Panthers are coming in with a very good running team and pretty good passing attack as well. In both areas Harmon will be tested.
I think he brings something to the team and tonight he will have to stop the Panthers running attack and tight end.
Tonight will be a great game and a exciting one. I think the points will be tough for both teams to come by and I can’t wait to watch to see if New England can pass the physical test and notch a signature win.