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Patriots or Panthers? NFL bloggers debate who will cover

A couple of hot teams are set to square off on Monday Night Football in Week 11. The Carolina Panthers have been one of the best bets in the league having won five consecutive games both straight up and against the spread. Meanwhile, the Pats have put together a mini streak of their own. They've won and covered in back-to-back games. The Pats have been perfect against the NFC South going 3-0 SU and ATS in their three games against the division this season.

In order to get an inside look at this matchup, we’ve enlisted the help of those who know these teams the best. Expert NFL bloggers Tim Dillon of the Patriots blog “Musket Fire” and Jesse Collin of the Panthers blog “Panthers 101” strap on the pads and debate which team will not only win Monday night but cover the spread.

WHY NEW ENGLAND WILL COVER



Tim Dillon is the editor of "Musket Fire". Follow them on Facebook and Twitter @Musket_Fire.


The Return of Injured Players


The Patriots have seen more than their fair share of injuries this season, but Monday night will mark the return of versatile running back Shane Vereen. He has the ability to line up at receiver or do damage in the backfield, so he is a key weapon Tom Brady will be sure to utilize. He will be a more reliable option on third downs than Brandon Bolden since he has much better hands.

On the defense, Aqib Talib is likely to return from a lingering hip injury this week. Cam Newton can shred a weak secondary, so Talib's presence will be key in shutting down Steve Smith.

Consistency of Aaron Dobson

Dobson has finally grown into a more reliable receiver and seems to be putting the nickname "Dropson" behind him. Brady clearly trusts him now more than ever, and he has the ability to be a key play-maker.

Carolina's defense is one of the best in the league so he will have a tough test, but his speed gives him an advantage.

Tom Brady

You can never discount a future hall-of-famer, even when he hasn't had a statistically stellar year.

Brady's the heart and soul of the Patriots and will pick apart the Carolina defense if they don't pressure him or if they show any sign of weakness. When Brady's on the field, there's always the high potential for the Patriots to cover and win.

WHY CAROLINA WILL COVER




Jesse Collin is the head writer for "Panthers 101". You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @Panthers_101.

No Wilfork, no Kelly, no dice


The Patriots suffered a huge blow when nose tackle Vince Wilfork tore his Achilles' tendon early in the season. The 6-foot-2, 325-pound space eater has been the longtime anchor of Bill Belichick's defense, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl in nearly a decade with the team.

Wilfork's ability to take on multiple blockers and stuff the run is virtually irreplaceable. To boot, New England also lost backup Tommy Kelly to a season-ending knee injury earlier this month. With the interior of the defensive line decimated by injuries, it's no surprise that the Patriots, who are surrendering over 128 yards per game on the ground, have struggled to stop the run.

That weakness should play right into the hands of the Panthers, who will look to wear down New England's thin defensive front with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton.

Kings of third down

Where the Patriots have struggled on third down, the Panthers have excelled. Tom Brady and co. are converting just 34.6 percent of third downs this season - 25th in the NFL. Meanwhile, opponents are converting just 33.9 percent of third downs on Sean McDermott's defense - fifth best in the NFL.

Conversely, New England ranks 24th in third-down defense (40.4 percent opponent conversion rate) while Carolina ranks third in third-down offense (46.2 percent conversion rate).

The Panthers' ability to both sustain drives with their offense and stifle them with their defense will allow them to control the ball, dictate the pace of the game and, most importantly, keep Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the high-octane Patriots offense watching from the sidelines.

Overwhelming pass rush


The Panthers defensive front presents the biggest challenge of the season for the Patriots offensive line. As the Bengals, Saints and Jets learned earlier this season, Tom Brady can be surprisingly average when the guys up front struggle to protect the pocket.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, who've combined for 13.5 sacks, have made a living in opponents' backfields this season. Fueled by the home crowd and the national stage, the two bookends should have no problem making mincemeat of a New England offensive line that's surrendered 26 sacks this season.

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Posted by william82
1 year ago

Lol ya'all losers laught at me huh??? Look at new england... only 3 point..
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Posted by Poet1k
1 year ago

Why has Gronk not been mentioned?? He is the one key to whether the Pats can move and SCORE on Carolina's tough defense. Without him, I would say Car handles them easily. With him, I still give Car the lean at home, but if they can't stop Gronk and he opens them up for other big plays (Vereen, Ridley, Dobson), then it could be close and Brady could have a chance to drive down the field at the end, if they keep it within one score...
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Posted by bej0101
1 year ago

24/3 LMFAO
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Posted by nflkicker17
1 year ago

Carolina is over-rated, remember they lost to Arizona and Buffalo (2 mediocre teams) Scoring low and winning is a Defensive strength, I give Carolina that credit. The way to slow Cam down is to take away the big play, Cam actually is very mediocre in passing 5-15 yards, I say that because Cam is good to great on the long ball (his specialty!) Bellicheck and defense will make Cam play his weak edge, the small throw. Cam has to win this for Carolina, we all know what happens to Cam when he is asked to do most of the work: L O S S !
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Posted by btc619
1 year ago

If you want to see how good your defense is. You need to take your game to Tom Brady, or Payton Manning. If Denver can overcome KC defense last night. N Tom Brady been shredding Pittsburg defense last week, Caronlina is notting but a Joke to God of Football (Bellichick) n his Legendary warrior (Brady). FYI New England had blow out most opponent on MNF.
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Posted by william82
1 year ago

Carolina
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Posted by william82
1 year ago

Carolina carolina. ....
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Posted by 1junkie
1 year ago

Carolina cannot beat Tom Brady, he was shredding defenses (as witnessed on Nov3. with a a 55 point performance) back when receivers were dropping passes and know those days are behind us. Gronk is back, Amendola is healthy and catching balls and I can't say enough for Talibs presence. With the returns ready to go the Jekyl and Hyde Panthers could be getting schooled tonight. Betcha!
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Posted by 12pk
1 year ago

i have new england on the back end of a 6 pt tease. i like mtfn50 also have been watching the over tonite . did not play it when the total was under the key # of 45. now at 46 will probably still play it with a hedge on the panthers which cover the key # 3,4,6,7. glt all.
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Posted by MTFN50
1 year ago

The Pats from the start have had more key players hurt or in jail than most teams. And the Panthers are finally playing the way people thought they would last year. For me this game tends to be a coin flip evenly matched .had same opinion with Saints SF on sunday.. which led me to taking the total and under 50 . .Tonite Ill go with the total again but the over . The third down stats posted above tells the story IMO Over is the play .A lot of the posts here seem to be people betting with there hearts a sure way to lose bets... Brady not a Hall of famer??? .Gambler a Pat homie . And William pats wont score more than 10 (boy Id like to take that bet ) GL all
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Posted by weston555
1 year ago

Hmm "AA_Gambler" has a Patriot logo as his picture and he is calling for a Patriot victory. Yes, a truly EXPLOSIVE offense the Pats have this year...averaging an entire .1 more yards per play compared to the Panthers! New England is good, yes...but don't act like this is an easy pick. Typical homer bettor.....which is actually fine by me. More money for the rest of us who actually bet smart.
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Posted by MYSTICRICH
1 year ago

Brady future hall of fame , that's because its a popularity contest , his 51.1 QB Rating over the last 5 years of post season play and his 19 INT's in his last 14 post season game should disqualify him , it would if it was baseball . The NFL is a collection of STINKY teams when Brady plays teams over 500 which don't occur that often he SUCKS .
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Posted by AA_Gambler
1 year ago

Carolina has yet to face an offense as potent as the Pats all season, and with Talib and Vereen coming back which will have the Pats working on all cylinders. After shutting down Steve smith, cam will have no one to throw to and become one dimensional. Final score Pats Win 29-20...
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Posted by stevopa
1 year ago

Carolina won't need to rely on their passing game, unlike the Pats. BTW, their are other guys that Cam relies on in the passing game besides and aging Steve Smith.
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Posted by william82
1 year ago

Tom yum gona throw 10 interceptions and 5 fumbles.. enough.. carol all day everyday..peace out
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Posted by william82
1 year ago

Carolina.. too much defense for the pats... i dont think pats can handle.. dont think new england score more than 10 .. person Tom will get sack all night.. final score carolina 24 -3.
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Top Response

Posted by stevopa
1 year ago

"Carolina won't need to rely on their passing game, unlike the Pats. BTW, their are other guys that Cam relies on in the passing game besides and aging Steve Smith. "