4 crucial matchups to watch during Panthers vs. the Patriots in Week 9

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Bill Belichick vs. Matt Rhule – Carolina Panthers HC

This may very well be the most important matchup of the day for a great many reasons and even for a person not mentioned in the title.

Matt Rhule was a highly coveted coach after transforming multiple college programs into winning organizations. However, that luster has worn off this season after a series of devastating collapses led to a four-game losing streak.

The hot seat may have gotten a tad more comfortable after snapping this concerning stretch in Week 8. But Rhule is still squarely in owner David Tepper’s vision and any more slip-ups could pile on the pressure.

Bill Belichick couldn’t be any different.

Everyone knows what the New England Patriots coach has been able to do, scandal or otherwise, so there’s no need to list them. However, the point stands that Belichick is a mastermind and the only thing that will make him leave is retirement.

This is where the game will be won or lost.

Belichick is the king of planning and adjustments. Something the Carolina Panthers haven’t been able to master. The veteran coach knows exactly what to do to bring out the worst in this young team.

Rhule and especially Joe Brady cannot go into this game with a simple plan. Running the ball more than 40 times will not work any better than throwing it that many times.

This is the time to bring out whatever they have been keeping behind for a special occasion. Change the game plan completely and then change it again once Belichick figures it out, because he will.

The Panthers coaching staff is sitting at a D- and this game is their midterm. It’s pass or fail time and this is worth way more than a scholarship.