Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers At New England Patriots

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws during the fourth quarter of a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    The Panthers offense appears to be stuck in the mud, and quarterback Cam Newton does not have any idea of how to rediscover the magic. Newton threw three interceptions and was sacked four times in the Panthers’ Week Three loss to the Saints. Even when Newton has time to stand in the pocket and throw, Newton is rarely accurate.
    The Patriots needed a miracle finish against the Texans, and Tom Brady delivered once again. He came through with the winning touchdown pass to wideout Brandin Cook in the final seconds, and that was his fifth TD pass of the game and he threw for 378 yards. Brady’s ability to throw accurately when the game is on the line gives the Pats an edge nearly every week.
  • Offense
    The Panthers have some weapons to help them out of their malaise, and the most explosive among them is rookie RB Christian McCaffey, who is very dangerous in the open field as a runner or a receiver. Jonathan Stewart runs hard, but he is not going to make tacklers miss. Devin Funchess is trying to prove himself as a go-to-wide receiver.
    The Pats usually find a way to get things done with their offense, but the running game is not a major asset at this point. Mike Gillislee is a decent short-yardage runner at this point, but James White is struggling at this point. Rob Gronkowski is the most dangerous tight end in the league and Cooks is coming off his best game with the Pats (5-131-2)
  • Defense
    The Panthers are dependent on their defense, but it’s difficult for this unit to function when Newton is throwing interceptions and giving opponents stellar opportunities to score. Linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly are still two of the best in the game, while free safety Kurt Coleman is an instinctive player who led the team with nine tackles against the Saints.
    The Patriots have not figured out a workable defensive gameplan at this point after putting one of the game’s stingiest defenses on the field a year ago. The Patriots have been gashed for a number of big plays so far this season, and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has to figure out a way to keep this from happening. DE Trey Flowers is their best pass rusher, but he did not have a sack against Houston.
  • Special Teams
    The Panthers have rarely gotten consistent play from their special teams, and even though they regularly do well in the team speed area, they don’t make big plays in the return game. Graham Gano is usually dependable as a FG kicker.
    The Pats had a few lapses on special teams a year ago, but this is an area that has served them quite well over the years. They do an excellent job in coverage, and Danny Amendola can make tacklers miss as a punt returner. Stephen Gostkowski is one of the best placekickers in the game.
The Patriots should be able to breathe fairly easy in this game because the Carolina offense is functioning at such a low level. Newton was one of the best players in the game two years ago, but he has fallen off very badly.

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