The Patriots and Panthers are two teams heading in opposite directions heading into their meeting on Sunday. After a rough start to the season, the Patriots are 3-1 in their last four games, getting their record back to .500. Meanwhile, Carolina has slipped after a 3-0 start, and are 1-4 since the beginning of October. Their record also sits at .500.
For the Patriots, their strong month has been built on more consistent play. They’ve seemingly worked through offensive line issues that plagued them earlier in the season, and have cut back on penalties and other mental mistakes. New England was the 12th-most penalized team through the first four weeks of the season, they ranked 20th in Weeks 5-8.
Meanwhile, the Panthers have been battling mounting injuries to key players. All four of their losses have come without star running back Christian McCaffrey. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold has also been banged up the last few weeks, and began this week in concussion protocol.
Will the Patriots be able to build on their impressive month of October, and continue on their upward trajectory? Or will the Panthers steady things on their end? Here’s a look at the matchups each team needs to win if it wants to get back above .500…