3 reasons the Carolina Panthers can beat the Patriots in Week 9

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) P.J. Walker
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) P.J. Walker /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

47. Panthers +3.5. CBS. Sunday, Nov 7. 4-4. 87. 1 PM ET. 4-4

The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots will meet Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium in a Week 9 matchup.

After a month of losing, the Carolina Panthers finally got back into the win column this past Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons, besting them 19-13 on the road. They avoided the crucial mistakes that have plagued them during their four-game skid and received another stellar outing from their defense.

Carolina leaned heavily on the run-game when its offense was on the field, rushing 47 times, which was the franchise’s most in a single game since 2009. In fact, the Panthers’ number of carries was almost as many as the Falcons had total plays (50). So when Matt Rhule said he wanted to establish the rushing attack, he wasn’t kidding.

Quarterback Sam Darnold had a solid day, completing 13 of 24 passes for 129 yards with no interceptions or touchdowns. He made a beautiful throw on a fade to D.J. Moore that should have been a score, but it was ruled an incomplete pass upon review.

More importantly, Darnold made fairly good decisions all day and avoided disaster – something he has failed to do all too often these past few weeks.

The defense was the star of the day though for Carolina, holding the Falcons’ offense to just 213 yards all day, and limiting Matt Ryan to the lowest net passing yard total of his 14-year career. Stephon Gilmore played well in a limited role in his Panthers debut and sealed the game with a late interception.

Shifting to this weekend, the Panthers have another opportunity to earn a win, this time on their own turf. Carolina will host the 4-4 New England Patriots, led by rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Sunday’s matchup will be the first time since 1995 that the Panthers will face New England without Tom Brady and the eighth time that the two teams have locked horns.

Despite being underdogs, the Panthers are coming off of one of their best team performances of the season. If they can keep that momentum rolling, Sunday’s game is completely winnable.

It won’t be easy – especially if Darnold is out – but the Patriots aren’t an out-of-this-world team. Carolina has kept itself in the playoff mix thus far, and another victory would keep them there.

So without further ado, here are three reasons why they can do it.