NFL New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski

NFL Free Picks Week 11 – Can Carolina Overcome Healthy Patriots?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been touting the Carolina Panthers in my NFL free picks for a few simple reasons. Their defense has improved by leaps and bounds over the past three seasons, going from 30th in points allowed in 2011 to 2nd this season with just 12.8 points surrendered on average in 2013. After a nauseatingly slow start, however, the Panthers have also emerged as a force of nature and everything begins and ends with Cam Newton.

The third year quarterback is just 24-years old, a fun fact I mentioned last week when the Panthers beat the Niners. It’s taken some time for Cam to mature, but over the past three seasons he has done so and this team has quickly acclimated to his fearless leadership and swagger. Newton believes that he is the best, young quarterback in the league and the whole team is responding to his confidence. Beating San Francisco was the marquee win they’ve been looking for all year after decimating the bottom feeders of the NFL. Picking up a win against New England will cement them as a playoff team to be feared.

New England Patriots (7-2) vs. Carolina Panthers (6-3)
Monday Night Football features the New England Patriots visiting the Carolina Panthers.
Starts: 11/18/2013 8:30PM
Bank of America Stadium, 800 S. Mint St.
Charlotte, North Carolina


Momentum exists in the NFL, and Carolina has boat loads after going 5-0 SU and ATS and never allowing any opponent to score more than 15-points during that stretch. Carolina is also 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games and are 5-2-1 ATS when hosting a team that boasts a winning record. The betting trends only amplify what we know about the Panthers by this point – they’re really, really good.

The problem with backing them in NFL free picks for Week 11, however, is that it ignores how amazing the Patriots have been this year. New England has struggled with injures to many of their major players, including two season-enders that befell Jarod Mayo and Vince Wilfork as well as weekly absences from their major offensive players. I’ve argued that Tom Brady might be having one of his finest seasons ever considering that his most consistent target all year has been Kenbrell Thompkins.

As Denver has proven, the best way to overcome a shoddy defense is to go ballistic offensively. Between Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Steven Ridley, Tom Brady has his pick of weapons. There are simply too many options to cover in New England when they’re running at full steam. The Patriots have averaged 34.8 points per game in the last month of NFL action. As good as Carolina’s defense has been, they’re going to have their hands full trying to choose between coverage and blitzing. Brady will make them pay for any defensive mistake they make.

BONUS NFL Betting Fres Picks

Sun, 17-11-2013
DET pk
Sun, 17-11-2013
CHI -2.5
Sun, 17-11-2013
Tampa Bay
TB +1
Sun, 17-11-2013
MIN +12
Sun, 17-11-2013
Green Bay
NY Giants
NYG -5

It’s also impossible to completely forget the bombs Brady threw last weekend while racking up 55-points against the woeful Steelers. Brady assaulted Pittsburgh with 432 yards and 4 touchdowns, while the rushing attack picked up another 3 scores on the ground. It was the most complete game that New England has played all season because it was the first, real time that the entire offensive had played a game together. If Wilfork and Mayo hadn’t been lost for the season, the Patriots would be the best team in the NFL hands down right now.

Dropping that many points on Carolina is virtually impossible. The most they’ve allowed all season were the 24 points they gave up to Buffalo in Week 2 when they were still figuring things out. It’s also crucial to remember that Carolina has not been playing that many strong offensive teams lately. Their five wins include Atlanta, Tampa, St. Louis, Minnesota and San Francisco where the Niners played horribly. Part of that is due to how good Carolina’s front-seven is, but another reason is that Colin Kaepernick lost his best receiver.

All this being said, I thoroughly believe that the Panthers are a legitimate threat in the playoff picture. They are playing with an undeniable moxy and have blossomed after two hard years with Cam Newton. Still, this is the type of statement game that Carolina has never won with Newton, and the Patriots have won countless versions of these games with Tom Brady.

A loss here won’t hurt Carolina moving forward because the NFC is actually pretty bad overall this year, but assuming that they’ll walk right through the Patriots is lunacy. When the Patriots are at full health on offence, they are a downright dangerous team. I expect both teams to play at their highest levels on Monday night, but the Patriots are simply too good in these statement games to let this one slip by. Brady and the Pats are the more reliable bet, especially with a growing line leaning away from them.

I’m ready to give Carolina all the credit in the world, but I’m not prepared to suggest that they’re better than a locked and loaded Patriots team. Ask me again come playoff time (or the when the Super Bowl rolls around) but that’s where my feet are firmly planted for NFL free picks in Week 11.

NFL Free Pick – New England +2.5 (OVER)

Posted in NFL