Patriots 20

(7-3, 2-3 away)

Panthers 24

(7-3, 4-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, November 18, 2013

Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC 

1 2 3 4 T
NE 0 3 7 1020
CAR 7 3 7 724

Top Performers

Passing: T. Brady (NE) - 296 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Newton (CAR) - 7 CAR, 62 YDS

Receiving: S. Vereen (NE) - 8 REC, 65 YDS

Patriots-Panthers Preview

The last time Tom Brady and the New England Patriots took the field, they put up the highest point total in the NFL this year.

It's highly unlikely they will come close to duplicating that effort Monday night.

The Patriots will go on the road to face a Carolina Panthers team that has won five straight and flexed its defensive muscles by allowing the NFC's fewest points.

It hasn't been an easy season for Brady, who owns the lowest passer rating of his career at 82.7 and has been frustrated often by an inexperienced group of targets that has dropped 12.2 percent of catchable balls for the league's worst mark.

New England (7-2) put aside those problems for a 55-31 rout of Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 as Brady enjoyed season highs of 432 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Now the AFC East leaders come out of their bye to face the Panthers, who are yielding 12.8 points per game and held defending NFC champion San Francisco without a touchdown in last Sunday's 10-9 road victory.

"They're one of the best defenses in the league," Brady said. "We have to play really well. I think our execution has to be at its best."

Carolina (6-3) has outscored foes 140-57 during its longest win streak since a six-game run Oct. 3-Nov. 13, 2005. Linebacker Luke Kuechly earned conference defensive player of the week honors for an 11-tackle performance as part of a defense that sacked Colin Kaepernick six times.

The second-year player out of Boston College now gets his first chance to face Brady.

"Tom Brady is a very cerebral guy, he's been around a while, he knows where he's going with the ball, he's smart, he understands defenses," Kuechly said. "So we've just got to do a good job of playing our job, doing our responsibilities and make sure we're in the right spot."

Kuechly and unheralded safety Mike Mitchell each have three of the Panthers' 13 interceptions that tie the club for the league's most.

The Patriots have also been boosted by Stevan Ridley's six rushing touchdowns over his last four games. He will face a Carolina front that allows an average of 82.0 yards on the ground for the NFL's second-lowest mark.

Just getting Brady enough snaps could be a challenge since Cam Newton has guided an offense that leads the NFL in time of possession at 33:48 per game heading into his first matchup with the Patriots.

"He's playing very efficiently. He does a good job," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick about Newton. "He's obviously a threat with the ball in his hands to run. He can make all the throws. He can put the ball on the sideline."

Carolina has rushed for an average of 120.4 yards during its win streak while the Patriots allow 128.2 yards per game on the ground for the league's third-worst mark.

Belichick believes his team will be prepared for Newton having already faced Buffalo's EJ Manuel and the Jets' Geno Smith.

"I think that a lot of the plays that Carolina runs we've seen from Buffalo and the Jets," Belichick said. "The fact that we have seen some of those plays, we've worked on the basic blocking schemes and how to fit on them, where everybody needs to be."

Newton owns a 67.4 completion percentage over the last five games. He has helped the Panthers convert a league-high 36.4 percent of third downs of at least 10 yards, and they are third on all third downs at 46.2 percent.

He'll try to avoid a New England pass rush that has produced 29 sacks to match Carolina and is led by Chandler Jones' 8 1/2.

Jones is tied for seventh in the league in sacks with the Panthers' Charles Johnson, who forms an impressive pass rushing duo with fellow defensive end Greg Hardy (six sacks).

"That's our style of defense," Hardy said. "We dominate. We take what we want. We do what we want."

Those pass rushers have clearly been helped by the additions of rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

"We're playing young guys who have learned very quickly," coach Ron Rivera said. "These guys know what we want them to do."

Both teams have been very disciplined with New England committing 41 accepted penalties and Carolina 44 to rank in the NFL's top six.

Brady is 13-4 on Monday nights, an event the veteran still enjoys.

"Monday Night Football is always pretty cool, especially when you play a really good team on Monday Night Football," he said. "It's a fun night."

The Patriots have won three of five all-time meetings, including 32-29 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.


Passing Leaders

T. Brady66.34577328
B. Hoyer66.74200
C. Newton59.133022216
D. Anderson25.01700

Rushing Leaders

D. Lewis1808965.06
M. Gillislee1043833.75
C. Newton1397545.46
J. Stewart1986803.46

Receiving Leaders

R. Gronkowski69108415.78
B. Cooks65108216.67
D. Funchess6384013.38
C. McCaffrey806518.15

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsNE
Yards PassingNE
Yards RushingNE
Yards AllowedNE
Pass Yds AllowedNE
Rush Yds AllowedNE

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

New England leads 3-2
Dec 13, 2009NE 20, CAR 10
Sep 18, 2005NE 17, @CAR 27
Feb 1, 2004NE 32, CAR 29
Jan 6, 2002NE 38, @CAR 6

Research Notes

From Elias: The Patriots have the 3rd-longest active win streak on MNF:
Brady and company should be wary of the Panthers defense, especially later in the game. The Panthers have forced 14 turnovers after halftime this season, behind only Seattle, Arizona and Kansas City. Something has to give, as the Patriots have turned it over only 6 times after the half this year, which is top 10 in the league.
Cam Newton entered the game with 28 1st-down scrambles on third down in his career (most in NFL since 2011).
Cam Newton was 8-of-11 for 98 yards and a touchdown against five or more pass rushers Monday, and he did not take a sack against added pressure. Entering Week 11, Newton had been sacked 18 times when facing five or more pass rushers, second-most in the league.
The 14 combined drives in Monday's Patriots-Panthers game are the fewest in any NFL game since 2008 (Week 9, Patriots at Colts also had 14).
Tom Brady completed his first 19 passes 5 yards or less downfield Monday, finishing 19-of-20 for 139 yards and a touchdown on short throws. Brady's 19 completions on such throws are tied for his most in one game in the last three seasons. --Brady's average pass traveled 6.1 yards downfield Monday, his second-shortest average target depth in a game this season. Coming into the game, Tom Brady's average pass this season had traveled 9.3 yards, sixth-longest among qualified quarterbacks and Brady's longest in his last eight seasons.
The Panthers are one of just 4 teams that have outscored their opponents by at least 100 points this season.
The Panthers defense has a takeaway in 14 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Patriots' streak of 36 games with a takeaway was snapped Monday. The Patriots and the Panthers each had seven offensive possessions Monday, tied for their fewest in a game since 2001.
Steve Smith moved past Michael Irvin for the 22nd-most receiving yards in NFL history...this is through his first 2 catches for 47 yards tonight. He also has 101 straight games with a reception, tied with Calvin Johnson for the 8th-longest active streak in the NFL.
Cam Newton: 3rd player in Panthers franchise history to reach 10,000 pass yards (joining Jake Delhomme and Steve Beuerlein)
The Panthers went 8-for-11 on 3rd down in this game, including going 2-for-2 on their final drive. That's the 2nd-best conversion rate in a game by any team this season.
The Panthers forced Tom Brady to throw under duress four times on the Patriots' final 11-play drive (36.4%). Brady was 1-of-4 for 11 yards on those passes, including the game-ending interception in the end zone. Before the final drive, Brady had been pressured on four of his 31 dropbacks (12.9%).
Cam Newton ran four times (three scrambles) on third down for 56 yards Monday, converting each time for a first down. Newton has scrambled for a first down 31 times on third down in his career, most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2011. -- Two of Newton's three passing touchdowns came on third down. Newton has an 80.9 Total QBR on third down this season, third-best among qualified quarterbacks.
Tom Brady has completed 82.4% of his passes to Rob Gronkowski in their last two games after completing 45.5% in Gronkowski's first two games of the season.
Stevan Ridley has lost 3 fumbles this season, most in the NFL among RBs. He has lost 5 fumbles over the last 2 season, tied for the most in the NFL among RBs.
Carolina has allowed more than 15 points for the first time since Week 5 against the Cardinals (22). They HAD allowed no more than 15 points in 5 straight games, the longest streak by any team since the 2011 Texans

ESPN Stats & Information