Expect Panthers To Put It Together For NFLX Week 3 Against Patriots

Carolina Panthers

Jay Pryce

Monday, August 22, 2016 8:30 PM UTC

Monday, Aug. 22, 2016 8:30 PM UTC

Patriots and Panthers meet in Charlotte Friday night for a dress-rehearsal rematch. The Pats rallied from nine points down in the fourth quarter to top the Panthers Week 3 of the preseason last year. NFL picks and game preview here.

New England Patriots vs Carolina Panthers 

New England Patriots (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
The Pats look superior, again, through two games of the exhibition season—particularly on offense. The team’s 57 points scored are the second most behind the Dallas Cowboys (65).

Jimmy Garoppolo, slated to start New England’s first four regular-season games due to Tom Brady’s Delegate suspension, has been the man of the hour.  He owns a 105.6 passer rating in the preseason, tossing for 349 yards on 39 passes. Most of the success has come minus important first-team offensive weapons like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Garoppolo has guided the offense to the red zone in eight of 12 drives.

Whether Brady plays on Friday night is up in the air. He was excused from Sunday and Monday practices this week for reasons not injury related and has not suited up all preseason. He apparently sliced his thumb with scissors prior to the Bears game last week. Mystery is commonplace under head coach Bill Belichick.

Injuries are the biggest concerns in the New England camp. Dynamic running back Dion Lewis, who was working his way back from an ACL surgery last November, is expected to undergo “minor” surgery on the same knee to rid some loose particles. He is expected to miss 8-10 weeks, starting the season on the injured-reserve list. Perhaps the bigger blow is news that right tackle Sebastian Vollmer may miss the season, too. Vollmer, also on the PUP list, reportedly had shoulder surgery during the offseason, and may be dealing with a bad hip. Marcus Cannon will staff the spot. Many believed the O-line lacked the typical Pats-toughness often guarding Brady headed into this year, and it just lost one of its most resilient.

Defensively, the Pats may hold an elite, top-five unit. You can bet they’re expecting to carry the team the first month with Brady out, and will want to use this game to iron out the kinks.


Carolina Panthers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wanted to see “three good series” last week from a flat-looking first-team unit in the opener. He deemed their performance “so-so” in Carolina’s 26-16 win over the Titans in Tennessee on Saturday.

Reigning MVP Cam Newton went 8-for-12 with 161 passing yards, including a 61-yard strike to WR Ted Ginn Jr. Overall, the first-team offense put up 10 points on 18 snaps, though they suffered two three-and-outs. Carolina owned the NFL’s most efficient offense last season, gaining .47 points per play.

The biggest concern is that the rushing attack has amassed a measly 134 yards on 51 attempts through the first two weeks; not good for a coach that likes to install a power-run game that dictates the offensive flow. The O-line played very well, though, including the backups, keeping second-string QB Derek Anderson upright on all 20 pass attempts.

Defensively, the loss of cornerback Josh Norman reared its head at Tennessee. Titans QB Marcus Mariota worked rookie corner Daryl Worley pretty good in the first quarter last game but expect Rivera to give the youngster more help this time around.


Final Analysis
In the regular season, the Panthers are 21-1 SU and 16-6 ATS in their last 22 games as home chalk. Although Rivera’s men are likely to be overvalued for much of the first half of the year, the 3.5-points here is manageable, and it’s the closest version of a real game we’ll see in the exhibition period. Expect the Panthers to put it all together Friday night. We’ll wait for the line to drop to 3 points, as it probably will with public money gobbling up the hook, and take Carolina -3 as our NFL pick.


Free NFL Pick: Panthers -3.5 -105
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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