TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Carolina Panthers

New England Patriots
Carolina Panthers
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner Tom Brady has endured a difficult season and touchdowns were hard to come by until the Patriots put 55 points on the board against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Nine. While that game allowed Brady a chance to spread the ball around more than he had done previously, the Carolina defense may be able to keep Brady from following up with another memorable performance.
There are no questions about Cam Newton’s physical gifts. He has size, strength, athletic ability, a powerful arm and accuracy. Despite all those assets, Newton was painfully inconsistent until going on a five-game winning streak. He appears to have turned a corner and has learned how to take what the defense gives him.
Offense
The Patriots don’t want Brady to have to carry the team all by himself. They want Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden to run the ball to keep opposing defenses honest. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is a special talent who can get open on nearly every play. Julian Edelman can make tough catches in traffic, while Danny Amendola is also helpful when he can stay healthy.
Winner The Panthers have a two-pronged running attack with explosive DeAngelo Williams and powerful fullback Mike Tolbert. The speed and toughness of wide receiver Steve Smith can make a huge difference in this game. While he is short at 5'-9", he will stand up to any defensive back and make plays under duress. Tight end Greg Olsen has the size and skills to get open on key third-down plays.
Defense
The Patriots' defense has been torn apart by injuries and Bill Belichick’s team does not have the quality depth to make up for those losses. Without Vince Wilfork in the middle of the defensive line and Jerod Mayo at the outside linebacker spot, the Pats have been vulnerable to the run. The return of Aqib Talib (hip) will improve the pass defense, but there are some weak spots in the secondary.
Winner The Panthers have shown their mettle on several occasions this season, including their Week 10 victory over the 49ers. They kept San Francisco out of the endzone and limited them to three Phil Dawson field goals. Defensive end Charles Johnson has a team-high 8.5 sacks, while middle linebacker Luke Kuechly has a team-high 75 tackles and eight passes defended.
Special Teams
Winner The Patriots have done an outstanding job of covering kickoffs and punts, and they believe that Julian Edelman can bust a big return at any time. Stephen Gostkowski has been superb, connecting on 22-of-23 FG attempts this season.
The Panthers have not allowed a punt or kickoff return longer than 34 yards this season. Ted Ginn is one of the fastest players in the league and capable of busting a long return. Placekicker Graham Gano has made 13-of-14 FG attempts, and has made 5-of-5 from 50 yards or longer.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) (credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Panthers have reeled off five straight wins and they have the look of a juggernaut right now. The Patriots have struggled on offense before their Week Nine blowout win over the Steelers. Unless that game is the start of a trend, the Pats appear to be in for a long night.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Zito 2007 Contract Zito
    Barry Zito’s 2006 Giants Contract Vs. His 2015 A’s Contract

    In 2006, Barry Zito was the biggest free agent pitcher signing in MLB history. Eight Years later he’s trying out the team that originally drafted him, hoping for a chance to make a small fraction of his Giants contract. The veteran lefty says he’s playing now for the love of the game. A look at his pay cut will sure make you believe him. Check the numbers:

  2. (Tom Hauck/Getty Images) St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants
    Tale Of The Tape: Willie Mays’ 1966 Contract Vs. Modern Baseball Salaries

    On February 11th, 1966 Willie Mays signed a $130,000 contract with the Giants. At the time, it was the highest in the league. Now the league MINIMUM is $500,000. How would Mays, one of the league’s all time greats, be paid if he were a free agent today? Let’s measure up.

  3. Tom Brady (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Tom Brady Vs. Joe Montana

    If you grew up watching Bay Area football in the 1980’s you dreamed of matching the magic of Joe Montana (or even dressed like him for Halloween). Some of us have come closer than others. After another Super Bowl win, is San Mateo’s own Tom Brady finally there?

See All Tales of the Tape
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58,828 other followers