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Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Carolina Panthers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 1, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: Fox

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: CAR +8.5/NE -8.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5

The Carolina Panthers come to Foxborough on Sunday to take on the New England Patriots in week four action. The Panthers are looking to lick their wounds after dropping their first game of the season in a surprisingly lopsided loss to the New Orleans at home, 34-13. They now come to face a Patriots team that needed high-drama on Sunday to beat the surprisingly-tough Houston Texans, 36-33. One team will go to 3-1 this week, while another team will leave Gillette Stadium at 2-2.

The Panthers started the season well enough, mostly thanks to their defense. The offense is still dealing with some issues, namely how Cam Newton looks like he will need time to start playing well, as he still recovers from shoulder surgery. The defense opened the season by allowing just a field goal in each of their first two games. But against the Saints, they gave up 34 points. It wasn't all just the defense's fault, as numerous mistakes on offense contributed to that. Moving forward, the Panthers have to deal with an offense that is dealing with injuries and has been really off-key in the last two weeks.

Cam Newton has been erratic this season, with balls off the target and his usual running-skills not really on display, though he did scoot in the end zone on a run on Sunday. It was bad enough that they lost Greg Olsen for extended time, but it looks like they might now be without WR Kelvin Benjamin, who went down in the game with a bad-looking leg injury. The Panthers offense is already dealing with a version of Newton who will need time to be the version of himself that we all know. The run-game hasn't really taken off with Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. If looking for any signs of positivity, we saw some of the playmaking from the rookie combo of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel manifest on Sunday. Samuel made his presence known with a few catches and a 31-yard run. And while McCaffrey hasn't started rolling in the ground-game yet, he did catch 9 balls for 101 yards on Sunday. And let's not forget that losing a good center like Ryan Kalil is not something that's easy to cover up and it's shown in the last few games. They hope his return is imminent.

The Carolina defense didn't get a lot of support on Sunday, but their performance was certainly below-average, at best. Despite being more or less healthy, they were taken out of Sunday's game and their performance was not befitting of a Carolina home "D." Still, it's important to keep in mind that they allowed merely one field goal in each of their first two games, but that was against the Niners and the Bills. They face another dynamic defense this week and need to perform a lot better than they did last week.


New England didn't have it easy against a Texans team this past week, an opponent they easily handled twice last season. In three games so far this season, the Pats haven't been as dominant as some suspected they would be—losing to the Chiefs in week one and needing late-drama to beat the Texans. Down by five and with 30 seconds left, Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on a 25-yard touchdown pass to get the win. It was a wild game and New England was able to push their mark to 2-1 and they look forward to some more-routine wins in the future.

Brady was big again for the Pats on Sunday and has now thrown for 825 yards in the last two games. On Sunday, he threw for 5 touchdowns. After week one, he looked his age. But in the last two weeks, he looks as good as ever. On Sunday, they relied mostly on the air-attack and there was room for a lot of different players to shine. Brandin Cooks was productive and clutch, catching two touchdowns on 131 yards receiving. TE Rob Gronkowski was big with 8 catches, 81 yards, and a touchdown reception. Useful receiver Chris Hogan was also big with two touchdown catches, while Danny Amendola had 48 yards receiving. Brady made it all happen despite being sacked five times and the line not doing a great job in letting the run-game make a big contribution.

New England's defense was not up-to-snuff on Sunday, allowing what had been looking like pedestrian Houston offense to flourish with over 400 yards, with success coming both on the ground and through the air. If not for Tom Brady magic, the Pats would be 1-2 with a lot of it being because of this side of the ball. They gave up rookie Deshaun Watson's first 300-yard game, thought they did pick him off twice, with Stephon Gilmore and Duron Harmon both notching interceptions. Not having Dont'a Hightower in there has hurt and they await his return, as they look bad on the outside with him absent. In two of three games this season, this defense looks to have taken a step back from its championship form. But two games is not grounds for making any concrete evaluations and the lack of performance in this area should only arouse more attention and urgency from the coaching staff.

Carolina will certainly be pining for atonement this week, but road spots against really good teams out-of-conference are not ideal "get well" games typically. And with New England having already lost at home this season and narrowly averting another home loss, you'd think they will be feeling some urgency to give the Patriots faithful a conclusive win befitting a top conference contender and defending champion. New England, however, is a little worrisome with the run-game disappearing and the defense apparently so exploitable. I think there is pretty solid value on the Panthers this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Carolina Panthers plus 8.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Panthers vs. Patriots game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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