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Focus on Carolina: Panthers @ Patriots

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Bill Belichick is aggravated.  After a dismantling in the Big Easy and dropping a squeaker in Miami, he's miffed, PO'd, in a bad mood, grumpy... you name it.  None of it's good, especially for the players.  Like I've discussed before, Bill Belichick didn't suddenly have a brain fart and forget how to coach.  As some of you have posited, it's possible there's some coaching issues with the OC position and Bill might be taking on too much, but I think we have a talent issue here.  Looking specifically at our defense, they're young and lack the experience to keep points off the board, especially in the second half.  The offense?  They're simply not scoring enough points.  That and some blown 4th and whatevers, but we've beaten that to death.

Moving on to the Panthers...

Belichick's peaved, so peaved he sent four players home.  He's upping the ante and making sure players are listening.  This is it right here, I tell you what.  We need to win out to prevent Miami from crawling all over us:

Here's where the issue is -- The Patriots have four games left. If the Dolphins run the table, and it's not outrageous to think they could, then New England can't afford to lose another game. Because then, Miami will hold tiebreakers, as it did last year, and repeat as division champs.

We can't let that happen, which is why it's is so important to set a tone after 2 losses on the road.  This Sunday at 1pm ET, we face off against another NFC South team, the Carolina Panthers.  We know our AFC rivals far better than those from the NFC.  Matching up every 4 years, it's hard to get a handle on the Panthers as a rival.

Looking at their last game against the Bucs, Matt Moore struggled to establish an air game against a decent Buccaneers passing defense, going 14/20 and 161 yards, no TD's and one pick.  Rookie RB Jonathan Stewart picked up a significant number of yards, 120 and a TD, against a bottom-of-the-barrel Tampa Bay run defense.  Looking at Carolina, they're 6th in pass defense and 26th in run defense.  What does that say?

Bill, if you're listening, DO NOT ABANDON THE RUN GAME.  Pound the rock and pound it hard.  Send Laurence Maroney in as point and keep the ball on the ground.  Carolina has a very good passing D and it simply doesn't make sense to try and exploit something that may give us trouble, especially when it hasn't been one of our strong suits of late.

There'll be more to come.  For now, let's start learning a bit about this team.  Look for more info in the coming days and make sure to use the Q & A FanPost our fine rival blogger has setup.