Patriots

Scouting report: Panthers would prefer to win with run game and defense, not Cam Newton

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(Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s not a regular occurrence that a quarterback goes from league MVP two years ago to almost a bit player in an offense, but if the Panthers are to pull an upset on Sunday at Gillette, that’s exactly what’s going to happen with Cam Newton.

The Panthers want to play from ahead, they want to run the ball and they want a short, controlled passing game. If you think that sounds like they’re trying to hide Newton, you are correct. Before the Panthers fell behind the Saints last week, the first two drives were basically a how-to in hiding a quarterback, like Newton was Brian Hoyer. It was chock full of running plays, various reverses, screens and quick passes.

What they don’t want to do is have Newton have to drop back over 25 times taking deep shots and win the game from the pocket. Either he’s not capable of doing that anymore, or his balky shoulder is still not at full strength.

If the Patriots allow the Panthers to play their preferred offense, New England will have a tough time generating turnovers and getting distance on Carolina.

Here is the scouting report on the Carolina Panthers (2-1), gleaned through film study and background discussions with one NFC scout: