Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots: Prediction, preview, pick to win

Tom Brady's success in vertical passing game has been off the charts

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Teams meeting for first time in regular-season game at Gillette Stadium since 2009; Patriots beat Panthers on field goal in closing seconds of 2004 Super Bowl to capture franchise's second championship.

"Man, it's just like, where do you start?"

"You just got to be physical with him, knowing that just because he's big, he can also run fast and is very agile", he said. And he led a Panthers offense that had struggled all season to an average of over eight yards per play against New England.

It was Newton's second touchdown of the half, equaling what he threw in the first three games.

In terms of the coaching staff, Bill Belichick, when asked about it by the Panthers media brigade, brushed it aside fairly quickly.

The players say they are protesting racial injustice, particularly the treatment of blacks by police. Guys have gotten better.

The week leading up to this matchup was Newton's most active on the practice field. First things first, they have to get back to pressuring the quarterback. I wish we had gotten that call. New England, by comparison, has scored 12 touchdowns.

Cam has never been an accurate medium range passer, and due to his current situation, this is exactly what he's going to be asked to do. "I have the utmost respect for the men and women who fight for our freedom".

Carolina coach Ron Rivera has said Newton is still "knocking the rust off" after playing only one series in the preseason. Newton has one or less touchdown passes in four of his last five games. "(We) figured to get the shoulder a little bit of rest and start getting ready for New England".

For this to happen, the Panthers will need to stick to the run game and not abandon it.

All the experts picked the Patriots.

WORST TACKLE: Eric Rowe had an opportunity to stop Devin Funchess for a short gain on a third-down play.

"It's amusing because something (head athletic trainer) Ryan Vermillion thought of was, 'Wow, you had a non-contact injury a couple of years, and then here there's a contact injury where you get bent over, and you're fortunate to have nothing as far as structural damage, '" Rivera said.

"It is what it is", said Gronkowksi about the play this week. The running game was nonexistent against Houston and I don't think it gets any easier against the Panthers' front.

For a moment there it looked like Cam Newton was going to have another rough game. "Obviously the plan is to get into them first".

"He's definitely a passing threat, and a running threat and a return threat. You've got to try to make them as one-dimensional as possible and against these guys it's hard". I know in the preseason I picked Brady to have a down season and he started out with a awful performance against the Chiefs. However, Cam is not the only one to blame. According to patriots.com, the Patriots own an National Football League best 53-17 record in the month of October since the 2000 season.

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