The 40-year Brady old looks to be as good as ever - he leads the league with 1092 passing yards and eight touchdowns, and has yet to throw an interception. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly was covering the tight end, and never turned toward the ball. If you are exhausted of losing by the five to 10 points that Newton should have gotten you, take the plunge, put him on your bench and do something about it.
So while they were the strong Super Bowl chalk, the defense is going to play much better to make that a reality. But the second-year CB from Southern Cal, who came to Carolina via trade on roster cutdown day, could have his hands full vs. Chris Hogan and/or Brandin Cooks. Newton will have time to throw, and he'll have his moments against a suspect defense. "But it's kind of unusual to see two physical and tall receivers, so no matter where you are on the field, there's a big dude lining up right across from you".
The Patriots' defense is struggling to prevent other teams from scoring, but Rowe said he expects that trend to change in a positive manner soon. I have a lot of respect for Coach Rivera and the job that he's done there through the years.
New England is also without a big weapon as their top receiver Julian Edelman was lost in the preseason to a torn ACL.
Carolina had some trouble against the run but in the end they held the Patriots to a respectable 4.2 yards per carry and one touchdown. Tom Brady on the road, Matt Stafford on the road and then back home in Charlotte against Carson Wentz.
"Things that we're confident in we do more aggressively, we do quicker, we do with probably better overall execution than things we're not confident in, that we maybe have to wait and have that little bit of hesitation to make sure that something's right or make sure you're doing the right things", he said earlier this week. "You have to know where he is at all times".
NOTES: RB Rex Burkhead sat out Wednesday's practice with the rib injury that kept him sidelined last week against the Texans. If there is any game for the defense to turn it around, it will be this week. We saw them last week just have an abysmal performance on both sides of the football.
But one fourth-quarter drive, with the Panthers (3-1) up seven, did implode on Carolina as Newton took a third-down sack for a 12-yard loss.
The Panthers and Patriots have played at extremes so far this season. So those low defensive stats aren't fooling the Panthers.
Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore played collegiately for SC and is from Rock Hill, S.C.
Carolina has not played well, but they have benefited from playing mediocre teams.