Time: 8:40 PM
Location: Bank of America Stadium
TV/Radio: ESPN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Keys to Victory
1. Protect Tom Brady: The Panthers are known for their active front seven who like to get after the quarterback. Creating a clean pocket and maintaining it will allow Brady to dissect the opposing defense. New England is coming off a 55-point outing in which Brady did just that. Carolina’s secondary is respectable, but certainly nothing the Patriots signal-caller can’t handle.
2. Establish a rushing attack: The Patriots need to keep the Panthers defense honest. They cannot become one-dimensional because Carolina has too much talent. Sticking with the run will open up the passing game, especially the play action. New England is most effective when the play action is working and the defense is biting. Stevan Ridley figures to play a big role.
3. Contain Cam Newton: Newton, like many of the game’s young quarterbacks, is lethal when outside the pocket and on the run. He is large in stature, quick, and is not afraid of contact. New England needs to keep an eye on him at all times, especially when the play breaks down. If the Patriots hope to limit the Panthers offense, it starts with shutting down Newton.