The New England Patriots will host the Carolina Panthers on Friday in the second preseason game for both teams. Carolina is coming off a 23-21 win over Washington last week. New England lost 23-21 to the New York Giants on Thursday. These two teams had scheduled joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday as well.
During the 2021 regular season, New England beat Carolina in Charlotte, 24-6 during Week 9.
Mayfield and Darnold in a battleThe Panthers are led by head coach Matt Rhule, who is 10-23 in the regular season over two seasons. In the preseason, he is 2-2 straight up. Carolina controlled most of the opening game against Washington, leading 20-6 heading into the fourth quarter of that contest.
Joint Practice Observations: It got a little heated between the Panthers and Patriots, plus the latest from the session, and some injury updates worth keeping an eye on. https://t.co/OOPmlpf2qr— Darin Gantt (@daringantt) August 16, 2022
The Panthers have an interesting quarterback battle going on between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Mayfield got the start in the opening game against Washington and went 4 for 7 with 45 passing yards, leading Carolina to a field goal on the game's opening drive. Sam Darnold came in next and sent 2 for 3 for 16 yards with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins. The rest of the quarterback rotation got most of the snaps, with PJ Walker going 10 for 19 with 139 yards. Rookie Matt Corral, who was selected in the third round out of Ole Miss struggling, going 1 for 9 with 11 passing yards. The Panthers' rushing attack picked up 93 yards on 30 carries, led by undrafted rookie Spencer Brown with 36 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown.
Carolina's first-round draft pick, who was selected No. 6 overall, left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, has been another fun story to follow and has been announced that he will be the team's starter going forward. He will be vital to protecting whoever wins the starting quarterback position as the Panthers ranked as the fifth worst team in the NFL with 52 sacks allowed in 2021.
Rookies showed promise in openerBill Belichick has a 9-2 preseason record since 2018, suffering one of the losses against the Giants last week. Belichick was unhappy with the Giants' approach in the first game, as New York blitzed New England rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe on 17 of his 33 dropbacks. The fourth-round pick from Western Kentucky still showed toughness going 19 of 32 with a touchdown, an interception, and 205 yards passing while being sacked once.
The team's top quarterback Mac Jones did not play in the first preseason game but has been the starter in the joint practices this week. Against New England, 36-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer got the start and went 5 for 8 with one touchdown and 59 passing yards. The Patriots' second-round pick out of Baylor was wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who caught both of the passes he was targeted on for nine total yards and a touchdown.
Views from both sidelines.— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 17, 2022
Recapping Day 1 of practice with the Panthers: https://t.co/SbBvgs9Dnz
New England made a move that was shocking to some selecting Cole Strange, a guard out of Chattanooga in the first round of the 2022 draft. Strange played 14 snaps against the Giants and showed promise.
The running game for New England picked up 52 yards on 18 carries in the first preseason game. New England has rookies with something to prove at the running back position who led the team against the Giants out of the backfield. Pierre Strong, a fourth-round pick from South Dakota State, had a team-high 25 yards on six carries, and sixth-round selection out of South Carolina, Kevin Harris rushed for nine yards on six carries with a touchdown.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Although there is a lot of attention on the quarterback race between Mayfield and Darnold in Carolina, I don't see much of an edge for the Panthers in this game to justify them being favored. Belichick has shown in recent years that he does not like to lose many preseason games, and I would expect that he would like to see Mac Jones get some work during this game Behind Jones, veteran Brain Hoyer is not someone who should make many mistakes in this environment. New England also seems to have an advantage at the back end of the roster with quarterback Bailey Zappe whose progress appears to be ahead of Matt Corral at this point
Keep in mind that since these teams did practice against each other this week, it's hard to predict how either coach will approach this contest for sure, but I give the edge to the Patriots as an underdog here.
Full-Game Total Pick
We know about the QB battle in Carolina, but even on the other side, I don't think there's a signal quarterback in this game that should get too comfortable with their position on the roster. Yes, I understand Mac Jones is expected to be the guy in New England, but he is only entertaining his second season and has not yet arrived, especially with a promising rookie behind him.
Dating back to last season, New England has scored at least 21 points in four straight preseason games, and Carolina has allowed at least 20 points in three of their previous four preseason games while averaging 19,5 ppg in those contests offensively. I will take the over.