Find out how we are placing our NFL picks here, knowing that the New England Patriots & Carolina Panthers have had different situations heading into the third week of the preseason.
What We Know About The Coaches
New England head coach Bill Belichick is 35-29 in the preseason, 1-1 this preseason after his team rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat New Orleans last week. He's 7-8 in his career in Week 3 of the preseason.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera is 10-8 in the preseason, 2-2 in Week 3, and 2-0 this preseason after his team came back to beat the Miami Dolphins by a point last week. The Panthers have won each of their two preseason games by one point. Both coaches are getting their second- and third-string players to play well, so for the purposes of comparing them strictly within the confines of preseason competition, they’re on even terms.
The quarterback situation for New England is an interesting one. It looks like there’s less pressure on backup Jimmy Garoppolo because now there's a glimmer of hope that Tom Brady might not miss any playing time. That showed in his recent game against New Orleans. Garoppolo completed 28 of 33 passes and led the Patriots to a 26-24 win after the team trailed, 21-0. The normal practice for most NFL teams is to give the starting quarterback most if not all of the first half in the third preseason game, to sharpen him for the regular season and then rest him completely in the fourth preseason game. With Brady now being cleared to play at the start of the season, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots handle their adjusted situation. Garoppolo, though, should be able to play well in the second half.
For Carolina, the issue is a little more complicated. Cam Newton is a skilled starting quarterback, but with star receiver Kelvin Benjamin out for the season, he has to adjust to a different group of receivers. On one hand, this will not be an easy process during the season. On the other hand, this might mean that Newton will get more time in the third preseason game, and that could actually work to Carolina’s advantage strictly in terms of winning this game. The other point to realize before placing your NFL picks is that Newton was just 4 of 10 for 42 yards last week, but the backups helped the Panthers score 31 points and win.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Patriots did not play tight end Rob Gronkowski or receivers Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman last week. LaFell is out but the others might play a little bit in this game, but not a lot. The Patriots played a long season (going to the Super Bowl), so they rightly see no need in pushing their starters. This is a veteran team that knows what it has.
The Panthers need to find receivers to step up now that Benjamin is gone, and they also lost starting defensive end Frank Alexander for the season with an injury. They’re hurting, while the Patriots are resting. Call it even.
Outlook & Pick
Although the Patriots have a decent rotation at quarterback, they just wants to get through this game. Carolina has some things it needs to accomplish before opening day, given its injuries. Give the edge to Carolina as a result.
NFL Pick: Panthers -1 at The Greek