Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#255 Carolina Panthers vs.
#256 New England Patriots
Thursday, August 22, 2019 at 7:30pm EDT
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Written by Ricky Dimon

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The New England Patriots are undefeated through two preseason games and will be back in action when they entertain the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.

Young people problems

Carolina looked good in its opener, a 23-13 victory over Chicago, but Buffalo picked up a 27-14 win in Week 2 of the preseason. And it was even worse than the score suggested, as the Panthers trailed 10-0 after one quarter and 24-6 at halftime. Head coach Ron Rivera was not happy about things, either.

“We had a lot of young guys out there that need to turn the corner,” he admitted. “The first two games were really about the young guys getting chances. Quite frankly, from perspective, I don’t think some of the young guys stepped up when they had the chances.”

Neither quarterback Cam Newton nor running back Christian McCaffrey took the field against the Bills.

Rookie Will Grier has had an uneven training camp. He really struggled in the loss to Buffalo, completing just 4 of 11 for 32 yards. He has compiled 152 yards passing on 19-of-45 with two picks and one TD in two games.

“Will is trying so hard,” Rivera said. “He’s a young guy that wants to learn and wants to go out there and do things the right way. He’s just got to relax in my opinion. From what I see, I just think he presses sometimes.”

“I feel relaxed and comfortable out there. It’s more so … the rush is coming and sometimes I see something that’s about to come open, but I can’t hang onto the ball that long,” Grier said. “I have to learn to take the underneath stuff, take what they give me. I’m not going to be able to sit back there and hold the ball. That clock has got to get faster.”

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He went to Jarrett

It may be nothing more than the preseason, but the Patriots are already racking up wins. After clobbering Detroit 31-3, they outscored Tennessee 14-0 in the second half to prevail 22-17 in this past week’s contest. Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady did not suit up. Instead, head coach Bill Belichick gave most of the quarterback work to former Auburn standout Jarrett Stidham. The fourth-round selection went 14-of-19 for 193 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception.

“Stidham has a good arm,” Belichick assured. “I think he throws the ball accurately. I think he has shown that all the way through from Baylor to Auburn to his pro day and his spring workouts, so I do really think that has been the issue.”

The position of note so far this preseason, however, is receiver. Julian Edelman didn’t play as he recovers from an injured thumb, and neither did Phillip Dorsett, Cameron Meredith, nor first-round pick N’Keal Harry. The Patriots started Dontrelle Inman and rookie Gunner Olszewski, an undrafted free agent out of Division II Bemidji State. Josh Gordon has once again been reinstated by the NFL, but his status remains uncertain.

“When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said in his statement.

Update (8/20/19): Edelman was removed from the non-football injury list after missing the first 3 1/2 weeks of training camp. He participated in his first practice on Monday and with Gordon possibly back, the wide receiver picture is starting to look a lot better.

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All this team does is win; preseason, regular season, playoffs, whatever…. Stidham is off to a strong start, Brian Hoyer is faring well enough, and various receivers are stepping up to the extent that Brady’s absence from preseason games is not a big deal. The Patriots’ young guys are looking far better than those of Carolina at the moment.

Prediction: New England Patriots

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New England’s defense put an absolute hurt on Detroit and it shut out Tennessee in the second half. Carolina’s offense was hopeless in the first half against Buffalo. The under is 4-1 in the Panthers’ last five overall and 5-2 in their last seven on the road. It is also 9-3 in the Patriots’ last 12 overall, 4-1 in their last five at home, and 5-1 in their last six on fieldturf. Look for this one to stay under the total.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.