Game Overview ::
By MJohnson86 >>
- This game sets up as a defensive struggle that will rely significantly on which team wins the turnover battle.
- While both teams have had some ugly moments this year, both are still quietly in the thick of the playoff battle and this is an important “winnable” game that they will not want to let slip away.
- This will likely be a tightly contested game — both teams have been a part of one-score games in four of their last five contests.
- The statuses of Sam Darnold and Christian McCaffrey will have a huge impact on the projection of this game.
How NEw England Will Try To Win ::
For a couple of decades now we have seen Bill Belichick’s philosophy very clearly — attack his opponent’s weaknesses on defense and make them beat you in ways that they don’t want to on offense. Given that approach, we can get a clear picture of what the Patriots will try to do against the Panthers: run the ball and stop the run.
Carolina is 6th in the league in pass defense DVOA and 2nd in yards per pass attempt allowed while ranking middle of the pack against the run. On the other side of the ball, Belichick knows all too well how mistake-prone Sam Darnold can be and he will likely load the box to cut off the run and force Darnold to overcome the “ghosts of Belichick past” — remember the infamous “ghosts” game that has followed Darnold for years was against the Patriots. Darnold is currently in the concussion protocol and also battling a shoulder injury; if he were unable to play, that would mean PJ Walker would start at QB. While Walker provides some additional dual-threat ability, it would likely not do anything to change the Patriots approach as they will also force him to “prove it” and make them pay for loading the box. I would also expect a heavy blitz rate on passing downs from New England.
That whole dynamic on the other side of the ball will play a huge role in the Patriots offensive approach. They are not going to force the ball down the field against a good pass defense and risk turnovers that let the Panthers off the hook. The Patriots will pound the run and control the ball. Their only objective is to get out of here with a win, they don’t care if it’s pretty. Belichick will stay conservative offensively as long as needed in a game of “chicken” with the Panthers QB to see what happens first: they can consistently move the ball or they make a couple of costly turnovers.
How Carolina Will Try To Win ::
Matt Rhule has made comments in consecutive weeks that point to a conservative, old-school approach. A couple of weeks ago he talked about how “we haven’t been committed enough to running the ball” and this week said, “the team has to come to grips that it’s a ‘defensive team’”. He isn’t wrong, as their offense has not shown an ability to move the ball against better defenses and they have a lot of defensive talent and a good scheme. As I discussed in my Process Points article this week in the “Reflection Scroll”, we are at a point in the year where things like this will happen and teams will change from what we’ve known them to be. While Carolina has been respectable in pace and pass rate statistics to this point, we should expect those numbers to regress towards the bottom third of the league in the coming weeks.
In this matchup with a gritty Patriots team, Rhule and company will be put to the test if they will stick to their word. The bottom line is that it appears clear that they *do* trust their defense and they *don’t* trust their quarterback(s). The manner that they will try to win is likely to be the same as the Patriots — run the ball, avoid turnovers, control the clock, hope the other team makes mistakes. Usually, I like to throw more statistics into these breakdowns, but the changing nature of the Panthers approach combined with the set-up of this game environment makes it so the “narratives” and dynamics of the game are much more easily understood through a conceptual lens than from a statistical analysis.
Likeliest Game flow ::
This game has the lowest total (41) on the slate, and rightfully so. Both teams are likely to take a “run and defend” approach to this game and both defenses are good enough to keep the other team from scoring a lot of early points. The only scenario that I can see that would turn up the tempo here would be if Carolina surprises and is able to bust some big plays in the passing game early, as New England will basically be daring them to try. In that scenario, the Panthers would jump out to a lead and force New England out of its shell. However, even then it is unlikely they would build such a lead where the game environment would truly get out of hand — for instance, the Patriots are unlikely to abandon their plan if they were down something like 17-7 at halftime. Christian McCaffrey seems like he’s probably still a week away, but if he were active and resumed his normal role, that is one thing that could change the dynamic of everything as the Patriots linebackers would really struggle to contain him in space.
TOP PLAYS OF THE WEEKEND
SORTABLE GREEN ZONE TOUCHES
TEAM & PLAYER DK POINTS
DFS+ Interpretation ::
By Alex88 >>
- Total opened at 43 (tied for second-lowest in Week 9) and has since moved to 41
- CAR’s live implied total of 18.5 is fifth lowest
- CAR ranks sixth in plays per game (68.2), per TeamRankings
- NE ranks 15th
- In adjusted seconds per play, NE ranks second with 28.1 (per numberFire)
- CAR ranks 24th (30.8)
- Mac ranks 13th in PFF passing grade
- He’s averaging 24 completions on 35 attempts, 250 yards, 1.1 TDs, and 0.8 INTs
- NE has a 1:1 passing to rushing TD ratio
- Since debuting at $4,400, his DK salary has settled in the $5-5.5k range ($5,300 in Week 9)
- DK log: 15.24 // 7.44 // 14.6 // 17.9 // 12.54 // 16.76 // 25.18 // 11.72
- His 15.2 DK ppg ranks 29th
- CAR ranks 10th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.7)
NE Passing Attack
- NE utilizes both 11 and 12 personnel at below league average rates, but their usage of 21 personnel (19%) ranks third overall (league average is just 7%)
- Snap share: Jakobi Meyers 88.4% // Nelson Agholor 73.6% // Hunter Henry 71% // Jonnu Smith 53.6% // Kendrick Bourne 51.6% // N’Keal Harry 30.7%
- Target share: Meyers 23.5% // Agholor 14.5% // Henry 12.1% // Bourne 12.1% // Smith 11.1%
- Among all qualified WRs, Meyers ranks 10th in overall targets and 9th in catches, 22nd in air yards, and 19th in target share (per Koalaty Stats)
- Incredibly, he has still not scored a TD in the NFL
- Meyers has produced 11.69 DK ppg, with no 19+ scores this year
- Agholor ranks sixth in ADoT (16.3) and 19th in air yards
- Agholor averages 8.5 DK ppg, with no 19+ scores this year
- Bourne is the only NE wideout to surpass 20+ DK pts on the season (21.6 vs. NO)
- Bourne’s DK log: 2.7 // 4.6 // 21.6 // 10.8 // 6.8 // 14.5 // 15.8 // 6.8
- CAR ranks 6th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (34.2)
- Recent target counts for Henry: 8 // 2 // 4 // 3
- Recent target counts for Smith: 2 // 2 // 5 // 2
- Henry’s DK log for those games: 19.5 // 10.5 // 10.3 // 4.3
- Smith’s DK log for those games: 5.2 // 1.9 // 7.7 // 3.3
- CAR ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (11.3)
- Snap share: Damien Harris 45.8% // Brandon Bolden 25.2% // Rhamondre Stevenson 10.7%
- Target share: Bolden 7.6% // Harris 4.2% // Stevenson 2.1%
- Touches per game: Harris 16 // Stevenson 7.5 // Bolden 4.2
- Harris’s DK log: 15.7 // 13.4 // 3.1 // 4.6 // 10.8 // 20.8 // 28.3 // 14
- CAR ranks 2nd in DK ppg allowed to RBs (18.1)
- Darnold ranks 27th in PFF passing grade
- He ranks 27th in YPA and 24th in ADoT
- He’s averaging 21 completions on 34 attempts, 227 yards, 0.9 TDs, and 1 INT & 4.3 rushes for 22 yards, and 0.6 TDs
- Darnold’s DK salary started at $5,000 in Week 1, climbed to a high of $6,100 vs. MIN in Week 6, but has fallen back to $5,000 for Week 9
- DK log: 20.06 // 22.9 // 28.26 // 36.54 // 9.08 // 17.08 // 3.44 // 11.76
- His 18.6 DK ppg ranks 20th
- NE ranks 6th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.1)
CAR Passing Attack
- CAR utilizes 11 personnel at a 64% rate, 12 personnel at 19%, and 21 personnel at 8%
- Snap share: DJ Moore 85.7% // Robby Anderson 80.6% // Ian Thomas 60.8% // Terrace Marshall 43.3% // Tommy Tremble 39%
- Target share: Moore 28.1% // Anderson 17.4% // Marshall 7.6% // Thomas 5.9% // Tremble 4.9%
- Moore ranks 5th in air yards, 6th in target share, 8th in air yard market share, and 7th in WOPR among all WRs
- Moore’s DK log: 15.4 // 21.9 // 23.5 // 34.9 // 8.8 // 11.9 // 13.3 // 9.9
- Anderson ranks 21st in air yards but 99th in PFF receiving grade, dead last among qualified WRs
- Anderson’s DK log: 12.7 // 6.8 // 1.8 // 9.9 // 5 // 10.1 // 4.4
- Marshall hasn’t played since his concussion in Week 6
- Marshall’s DK log: 5.6 // 4.7 // 8.8 // 1.2 // 3.4 // 1.9
- NE ranks 14th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (37.5)
- No CAR TE has hit 10+ DK pts this season
- NE ranks 1st in DK ppg allowed TEs (6.8)
- CMC likely not back this week
- Snap share without him: Chuba Hubbard 47.3% // Royce Freeman 18.2%
- Target share: Hubbard 9% // Ameer Abdullah 3.1% // Freeman 2.1%
- Touches per game: Hubbard 15.8 // Freeman 3 // Abdullah 2.6
- In Week 8, newcomer Abdullah leapfrogged Freeman in snaps and touches
- Abdullah’s 5 targets in Week 8 led the RB room, and was good for 2nd for the offense as a whole
- Hubbard’s DK log since Week 4: 9.1 // 21.4 // 13.5 // 9.6 // 15.1
- NE ranks 17th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (24.5)