Week 11: Carolina Panthers
This will be the first time the Patriots are exposed to a real read-option quarterback this season, not a rookie like Geno Smith who is still learning the position. But it's no longer just Cam Newton's legs the Patriots have to worry about, it's the NFL's second best defense that poses a problem.
The Panthers are holding opponents to 13.3 points per game, with linebackers Luke Kuechly (Boston College) and Thomas Davis playing outstanding ball. Add in the trio of cornerbacks, Melvin White, Captain Munnerlyn, and Drayton Florence, all of whom have not allowed a single touchdown pass, and you can see why this game is a lot more interesting than it once was.
There was a time, early in the season, when the Panthers didn't really embrace Newton's ability to make plays with his legs. During the last four games, he has run or scrambled at least five times and as much as 11. Coincidentally, the Panthers have scored more than 30 points each game (34.5 per game) and are 4-0. Don't be surprised if the Panthers see the Patriots' 30th-ranked run defense as a weakness.
Who wins: Panthers
Originally picked: Patriots
Patriots record after game: 7-3