New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Spread Pick
Opening Line: Carolina -2
New England is coming off their bye week and sits 7-2. Carolina won their fifth-straight game last Sunday, a hard fought 10-9 victory at San Francisco.
The Patriots finally got untracked offensively two weeks ago, putting up 55 points against Pittsburgh, a Steeler record for futility. QB Tom Brady has been under siege for most of the year and has had few weapons around him. That scenario has changed as the returns of TE Rob Gronkowski and WR Danny Amendola give Brady more options. Rookie WR Aaron Dobson has also been emerging of late and WR Julian Edelman leads the team with 49 receptions. Carolina has one of, if not the best, front sevens in the game but that's a lot of players to account for in the passing game. Their secondary isn't as good and they need the D-line to pressure Brady consistently. The Panthers have allowed only 12.8 ppg and only eight in the first quarter. They also have 29 sacks and 13 interceptions. New England averages 129 ypg on the ground but face a stern test this week. The Panthers are allowing only 82 ypg. The Patriots won't want to be one dimensional and the return of RB Shane Vereen gives them four backs who can tote the rock.
Carolina had their streak of 30+ points scored snapped last week at four but did enough to get a huge win. QB Cam Newton has been good, not great, during the winning streak and is actually completing passes at a higher clip than Brady. He's staying in the pocket more and doing a decent job of spreading the ball around. WR Steve Smith leads or shares the team lead in receptions, yards and TDs but could be in for a tough day with the expected return of CB Aqib Talib (check status, hip). Talib was playing at a Pro-Bowl level before missing the past three games. The Panthers are a run-first team but lack a dynamic back. RB DeAngelo Williams is the No.1 ballcarrier but may lose carries to RB Jonathan Stewart, who has returned after missing the first half of the year. Carolina doesn't possess special talent on offense and New England should be able to handle the run with their front seven. Teams with a multitude of passing weapons give the Patriots trouble but Carolina lacks that ability.
ATS Game Pick
These are two teams playing, maybe, their best football of the year. New England's offense finally looked in synch against Pittsburgh and Brady's four TD passes were almost a third of what he had thrown in the first eight games. Carolina's defense has been red hot (57 points last 5 games) but this is by far their sternest test. New England is also 10-3 SU following their bye week under HC Bill Belichick. With the line a non issue, we'll side with a fully-armed Brady to get a tough road win.
Our Crew's Pick: Take the New England Patriots +2 at GtBets and get yourself a 100% bonus on your first deposit!