The Patriots biggest test of the season so far comes on the national stage of Monday Night Football. Brady will have all his weapons back (Vereen expected to play) against a solid Panther defense. Are the Patriots the team we saw put up 55 points against the Steelers, or are they the team that put up 6 points against a good Bengal defense. This game is a measuring item to see where this team is, and where the team is going.
The Patriots haven’t faced a good mobile quarterback (I don’t count Geno or EJ as good quarterbacks) sense last year against the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, a game in which they lost. Now they are facing arguably the best mobile quarterback in the game today in Cam Newton. And the Patriots depleted front 7 is going to be tested by a 3 headed monster running back trio in DeAngelo Williams, Jonathon Stewart, and Mike Tolbert. It will be interesting to see how we measure up against a solid running attack and what frankly is a good offensive unit.
On the other side of the ball it will be great to see this offense continue to mesh into one of the best in the league. With all of the weapons back, will the game start to open up for the rookie receivers? And if it does, will they be able to capitalize? Early on in the season when Gronk was still injured the young receivers struggled, and you cannot blame them. They were the main weapons on a typically high powered and complex Patriot Offense. Now with Gronk back, they have looked better, and two weeks ago against the Steelers the offense looked great. But the Steelers defense is not the Steelers defense of old, it has a banged up secondary and everyone in the league has been able to move the ball against them. It will be interesting to see how the young receivers and the offense will stack up against a much more talented Panthers defense.
All of that being said, I like the Patriots in a very close game. The Patriots have always been very good after the bye week, and I do not think that changes here. I think Cam Newton will make a key mistake and Brady will capitalize on it which will lead to a close win. I like the Patriots with a final score of 24-21.