New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
Date and Time: Friday, August 24, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Opening NFL Odds: Panthers -2, 46.5
Patriots vs. Panthers TV Coverage: Local TV
The Patriots have been silent assassins the first two weeks of the preseason whether they tried to or not. In Week 1, the Redskins Derrius Guice went down with what ended up being a season-ending ACL tear. Washington shriveled up soon after pissing away a 17-0 lead to ultimately lose by a 26-17 final count and fail to cover.
Last week, though it likely wouldn’t have made much of a difference, Nick Foles was knocked out of the game early on after straining his throwing shoulder. New England was already ahead on the scoreboard by then, but the Eagles didn’t have much interest competing the rest of the way only being concerned about their quarterback. Hopefully the Panthers key cogs steer clear of injury in this one.
The Panthers first unit got some burn last week in their home opener against Miami. Cam Newton and the rest of the offensive regulars got a full half, and they made the most of it. He ended up throwing for 89 yards and a 1:1 TD/INT ratio while completing 75 percent of his passes. When it was said and done, Carolina racked up an impressive 405 yards of total offense but did commit a pair of turnovers.
Both Garrett Gilbert and Taylor Heinicke have thrived as they compete for the backup role. The former has played to a 99.1 QB rating and completed 12 of 18 passes, while the latter checks in with a 101.4 rating and completed 67 percent of his passes. It will be interesting to see which gets the reps once the starting units vacate the field. Whoever it is, they best make a good impression to take a step closer towards securing the backup gig for what could be one of the league’s more explosive offenses.
Player to Watch
Ian Thomas – It’s been quite some time since the Panthers have had a receiver in their corps that would make opposing defenses game plan for him. We’re talking the Steve Smith days peeps! That could all be coming to a close should Thomas continue to excel and excite the way he has all throughout training camp and the first two weeks of the exhibition season.
The tight end out of Indiana reeled in his first professional touchdown catch at the tail end of the first half to give the Panthers a 13-9 lead over the Dolphins at the break. His night ended with a pair of receptions for 35 yards and that one score. Greg Olsen has taken the kid under his wing in practice, and Newton can’t stop singing his praises. Keep an eye open for the big target as his work ethic and game play has seen him shoot up the pecking order.
Patriots vs. Panthers Free Picks
Tonight will mark the Pats first venture away from Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick is 4-4 SU and 4-3-1 versus the NFL preseason odds his last eight away in the exhibition season. The Panthers are excited for this matchup. They get to go up against the absolute best and the game doesn’t count. It will go a long way in helping the team figure out just how far they’ve come, and how ready they are to begin the regular season.
Carolina’s injury depleted offensive line is likely one of the main reasons why this betting line is down to a pick after opening with the Panthers installed 2 point favorites. The betting public always hits the Patriots as underdogs regardless. That said, I believe the Panthers are the deeper of these two teams right now, and they have in my opinion the better quarterback rotation. With that, I’ll sit back and wait to see if I can actually get some points with the home team before coming back and hitting the moneyline.
NFL ATS Pick: Panthers PK at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Panthers 23 – Patriots 16