TURNOVERS- While the Patriots are getting better in that department, they still need to focus on it. Unless you are going for it on 4th down or it's the absolute last play of the half, do not put an extra yard above protecting the ball. Carolina likes to turnover the ball. Sam Darnold likes to throw interceptions to the Patriots (6 in his career). PJ Walker likes to throw interceptions (5 in 71 dropbacks). The Patriots should win the turnover battle today. A good way to do that is to protect the ball and avoid throwing towards our old friend Gilmore.
SAVOR TIMEOUTS- Timeouts almost became an issue for the Patriots last week. Personally, I think it was a bit of a fluke for once and not due to personnel not knowing their roles. We lost one because the referees neglected to call anything when Mac was hit after the whistle and we lost one when Bill challenged the holding in the end zone. While some people didn't like the challenge, I was fine with it. He had to make the call quickly and the payoff would have been huge.
DO YOUR JOB ON DEFENSE- I am 100% confident that whatever our defensive plan is, whether or not Darnold or McCaffrey play, it shouldn't matter. What it is really going to come down to is execution of the plans. Play until the whistle blows and don't get caught trying to make a play that isn't there. While interceptions are terrific, not getting burnt on 3rd down is even better. Last week the defense struggled a bit with making their tackles. I'm sure it was a point of emphasis this week.
FANTASY SIDE NOTE- As someone who has both the Patriots and Panthers defenses on their fanstasy team, I'm going to take one for the team and start the Panthers. The last time I started them they played the Cowboys..........you are all welcome.