It’s never an easy task for a team to go on the road, and it only gets tougher when the opponent is the New England Patriots.
But this 2017 Patriots team lost once at home, to Kansas City, and has a defense that ranks at the bottom of the league.
Still, Carolina suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of New Orleans last week. Have the Panthers fixed their mistakes in time to face Tom Brady?
Joe: Well, of course they have a shot. But I don’t know, I’m not really bullish on the Panthers’ chances this week. We saw them last week just have an abysmal performance on both sides of the football. I’ve not seen a lot out of quarterback Cam Newton in recent weeks to think that his shoulder is really all that much better. They keep settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. And what we thought was the strength of the team – their defense – just fell apart against Drew Brees. ... And here comes Brady.
Convince me that I’m wrong, please.
Jourdan: You make some great points, although you’re a bit of a downer. I’m calling you on it.
Joe: I will own that.
Jourdan: I think that this is a vulnerable Patriots team. And this is also a Panthers team that made some incredibly blatant mistakes on defense – mistakes that this defense doesn’t often make. Not getting set on the line, for example. Falling for the quick count. Falling for Brees’ play action and pump fake. The cornerbacks and safeties not being in position. Linebackers maybe trying to do a little too much. Defensive line not stopping the run.
Joe: You could keep going ...
Jourdan: Right, but those are the types of things that the Panthers are generally very good at. I think when they have a chance to self-evaluate, they’ll understand the things they need to do to make sure Brady doesn’t key in on them like Brees did.
This is a vulnerable Patriots defense. We saw in their past few matchups that teams were able to score a healthy amount of points against them. ... I do think the Panthers have a shot with the potential there.
Joe: I do think this is a good Panthers defense. I do think last week was a bit of an anomaly. They’ve got to start creating takeaways, though. I think that’s their only chance up there in Foxborough. If Luke Kuechly comes away with a takeaway, and he should have had one last week, just do more to change momentum, do more to give short fields to the offense. They’re OK with the drives, they’re not good at finishing drives.
I think it’s just going to take too much of a perfect effort from Newton and Co. If I had seen something out of him in recent weeks that convinced me he could do it I’d be with you. But I don’t see it. I think the Patriots win and I’m not even certain it’s going to be that close.
Jourdan: If the defense can get penetration up front and hassle Tom Brady, if they can stop the run and if these corners play a little bit better than they did last week, if these linebackers stick with their gaps and try not to do a little too much, I think this defense puts this offense in a good position to be successful.