Originally written on Pro Football Spot  |  Last updated 11/9/14
Well, well Panther Nation, this team has really stepped up. Carolina is playing some quality football right now. All led by it’s defense. What a great feeling it is to know when this team steps on the field, we have a chance to win. That is what we have been doing for the last five weeks, winning. I want nothing more than to make it six weeks as Monday night, Charlotte welcomes, Tom Brady and the News England Patriots. Alright let’s get started with my week 11 Panther Predictions. Cam Newton will be a significant factor in the game. But not because of his arm. He will be a factor in the run game. I believe as a team Carolina will run for over 250 yards in this one. THey need to in order to keep Tom Brady off the field. I suspect Cam will run for around 75 yards and have one score. He will pass some but Carolina will keep it to a minimum. I am looking for about 20 pass attempts if they can be effective running the ball. Throwing for about 150 yards and another score.The running back triumvirate of Mike Tolbert, DeAngelo Williams, and Jonathan Stewart will be of utmost importance Monday night. They will need to run hard and most importantly make ball security top priority. These guys combined will have nearly 200 yards on the ground themselves. And look for one of them to get a score. Between screen plays and check downs they should also contribute about 50 receiving yards. .Receivers will be factors only when the run game is ineffective. They just need to focus on hanging on to the ball. Last week that seemed to be an issue with them. I am thankful Ted Ginn is on the team for shoring up the punt and kickoff returns but I really want to see him involved in the offense. He has game changing speed and it should be something we can incorporate into our offense. Now is the time for him to have his breakout performance. If Mike Shula calls the game like I think he should, look for this group to have about 100 yards receiving. Again I want to emphasize the importance of catching every ball thrown at them. The offensive line will need to be the best performing of these position groups. When we run the ball they need to dominate the Patriots defense. The key to beating the Patriots is keeping Brady on the sideline. When teams run the ball, generally, they hold the advantage in time of possession. We will want to hold this advantage. Last week we demonstrated the ability to run a four minute offense and run out the clock. Well mostly. The offensive line will have success running the ball, offensive coordinator Mike Shula just needs to stick with it. Runs of 2-3 yards in the first half turn into runs of 4-5 yards in the fourth quarter. This line takes a toll on the defenders. We need to take full advantage. Pass blocking of course will be important as well. When we do need to pass Cam needs to have sufficient time. When he feels hurried he tends to hurry his throws and his mechanics suffer as a result. If this happens it will lead to turnovers. Offensive line play will be crucial.Defensive line will need to pressure Brady without any help from the back seven. We have the talent to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket. I think if we get after Brady the way we did Kaepernick, this game will not be close. The defensive line will also be vitale in keeping the Patriots offensive lineman off Carolina’s linebackers. Allowing the linebackers to play “clean” (free from offensive lineman’s attempts at blocking them) will nullify the Patriots running game.Charles Johnson and Dwan Edwards will each have a sack and Greg Hardy will get two. The linebackers will have the unenviable task of trying to cover, “the manimal”, Rob Gronkowski. He is the premiere tight end in the AFC (no disrespect to Denver’s Julius Thomas, Gronk’s done it longer). Gronkowski’s rare combination of size, speed and hands make him such a tough cover. Additionally Luke Kuechly, THomas Davis, and the newest member of the “knights of the pound table” AJ Klein will also be asked to blitz and get after Tom Brady occasionally. Look for Klein and Davis to each sack Brady once. This group will be very effective.The Panthers secondary is in for a challenge. Tom Brady is obviously one of the all time greats (pains me to say that). So the defensive backs will have to play their best game of the year to this point. As good as this defense is, the secondary has gone largely unnoticed. These guys are good. They have been the surprise of the 2013 season of all the position groups in my opinion. Captain Munnerlyn, Robert Lester, Melvin White, and Mike Mitchell have stepped in and truly done an admirable job. This challenge will be made much easier if the front seven can get pressure on Tom Brady. Mike Mitchell will continue his Pro Bowl caliber play and have another interception. This game will be an instant classic. I am looking at this game as a fan and looking to exact some type of revenge for the Patriots defeating the Panthers back in Super Bowl XXXVIII. But in reality this game is more about gaining relevance. My Uncle Johnny is a huge Cowboys fan. We talk every Tuesday about the past weekend’s games. This past Tuesday he said we were flying just below everybody’s radar. He finished by saying after we beat New England we will be on everybody’s radar. Carolina wins this one, 23-16.Follow me on Twitter @JoeRiollano or @Cat_Chronicles
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