5 Keys to Keeping Pats Game Close and Maybe Even Winning

After Carolina lost in embarrassing fashion to the Saints last week, it pretty much became a foregone conclusion that the Panthers don’t have a shot at getting a win against the Patriots this week. The odds were long before the loss to the Saints given New England’s impressive track record in Foxboro over Tom Brady’s career. The Patriots, however, haven’t just dominated their opponents this year. Both teams are 2-1 and, while New England did blowout the Saints, they lost their home opener to the Chiefs and barely squeaked out a win over the Texans last week. Carolina are +9 road dogs and New England is 19-1 in covering the spread when it is favored by 9 points or more. Tom Brady and the Patriots are mortal, however, and here are some things Carolina will need to do to keep it close and maybe even win. 

Score touchdowns:

Carolina’s offense has been allergic to the end zone this season. They haven’t scored a passing touchdown since week one. The only touchdown in the last two games has come on a Cam Newton run. Carolina has moved the ball at times, but they end up settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. With Tom Brady shredding teams for 450 yards at will this season, Carolina will ideally need to get ahead early and slow things down or at least be able to keep up if things start going bad. 

Get to Tom Brady:

Kansas City sacked Brady 3 times and the Texans put him on his back five times. When Brady is given time in the pocket, he is surgical. When defenses get after him, he can make mistakes like any quarterback. 

Limit Gronkowski:

He is a titan who plays tight end. Last week, the Texans slowed him a little by keeping him to just one touchdown on 8 catches and 88 yards. The Chiefs have been the only team to shut Gronk down this season, and that is the one loss on the season for the Patriots. Keeping him under wraps isn’t easy, but it is critical for Carolina if they want to have a shot.  Gronk had 6 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in their blowout against the Saints.  Shaq Thompson’s time is here with Thomas Davis limited by a rib injury. If Thompson and Carolina can’t contain Gronk, like New Orleans was unable to, things could get ugly.

Kevon Seymour and Defense Need to Be Disciplined:

In Week 2, Brady shredded an inexperienced Saints defense, picking on Saints second and third corners PJ Williams and De'Vante Harris. Brady and Belichick will likely test Kevon Seymour, who is making his first start in Darryl Worley’s stead. Seymour will have to play disciplined defense against a clever New England offense. 

Make the Big Plays, Don’t Give Them Up:

Three of Brady’s five touchdown passes against the Texans were for 40+ yards. Carolina doesn’t have the firepower to get into a shootout. The Texans, who put up a better fight than expected last week, surrendered a bunch of big plays, but they also made some as well.

Carolina has a -3 turnover differential and it was turnovers that ruined their chances against the Saints. Carolina will need to force turnovers, not make them if they want to keep things close. 

There are a ton of things Carolina will need to clean up from last week if they want to keep things close or even pull off the upset. Matt Kalil and Darryl Williams have to play well at tackle and I think they will because Ron Rivera definitely made it known that these guys haven’t done enough. The good news is that Carolina was humbled against the Saints last week and there has to be a chip on these guys shoulders, especially Cam Newton’s The Panthers are also 3-0 in covering the spread after a loss, so I won’t be surprised at all if they can hang in there at Foxboro. 

I used to play poker a good bit when the Poker craze was at its height a little over a decade ago. Before my only trip to Vegas, I picked up a few Texas Holdem books written by the likes of David Sklansky and Doyle Brunson. What I found as I waded through these books was that I knew a lot of these concepts such as position and pot odds, but studying them put them in a sharper perspective and kept these concepts at the forefront of my mind when playing. None of the points are revelations likely, but hopefully, they will elucidate some of the things that Carolina will need to do to keep this game against the Patriots close, and maybe even win.

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