The New England Patriots have got the Carolina Panthers right where they want them - on the opposite side of the football field in an NFL preseason game. While the Panthers have tended to get the better of the Patriots during regular-season action, it's been all New England in the preseason. The Patriots have won four straight exhibition games from the Panthers, including the last two played in Carolina. New England has emerged victorious in three of its last four preseason visits to Carolina.
All-time, the Patriots own a 7-2 edge over the Panthers in the NFL preseason. New England is 4-0 at home against Carolina in the preseason. The Panthers haven't defeated the Patriots in an exhibition game since a 20-17 home-field verdict in 2004. After an 0-2 start at Carolina, the Patriots are on a two-game winning streak there. But Carolina has proven to be a tough foe on home turf recently in preseason play. They are 13-3 at home in their last 16 preseason games, though two of those three losses were to the Patriots.
Long And Short - Another interesting trend to study when the Patriots play the Panthers in the preseason is the final score of the game. The Panthers tend to win when it's close on the scoreboard. Besides their 20-17 triumph in 2014, Carolina's other preseason victory over New England came in the first-ever exhibition game between the two teams, a 23-20 win in 1999, also at Carolina. But then New England won five of the next six preseason games against the Panthers, and for the most part, did so in fine style.
A 29-21 win in 2000 was followed by a 23-8 verdict in 2001 and a 28-3 rout in 2002. Then in 2007, the Patriots dumped the Panthers 24-7. That's four victories by a a combined point margin of 134-39. That works out to an average point differential in the final scoreline of 16.25 points in favor of the Patriots.
Lately, though, things have begun to trend in the opposite direction. In the last two games, both played at Carolina, New England won close, low-scoring games - 17-15 in 2015 and 19-17 in 2016 - the only times in the series that neither team reached 20 points on the scoreboard.
Betting On Bill - Patriots owner Robert Kraft says that Bill Belichick can remain the head coach of the team for the remainder of his life should he so choose, but Belichick's contract status, like many things involved with this franchise, is a tightly-guarded secret. Yet no matter what the team says about Belichick's future they can't put a stop to speculation. There's even been discussion of what the Patriots could land in a trade for Belichick.
BetDSI is already offering a prop wager on where Belichick will coach during the 2019 NFL season. At +125, the New York Giants, are listed as the favorites, followed by the Patriots at +200. Odds are also given on the Dallas Cowboys (+400), New York Jets (+750), Green Bay Packers (+1500), Indianapolis Colts (+2500), San Francisco 49ers (+3000), Chicago Bears (+4000) and Cleveland Browns, the team Belichick coached from 1991-95. Or you can opt to place a wager that Belichick won't be an NFL coach in 2019, at odds of +750.
Betting The Tom Tom - Maybe life does begin at 40. It certainly did for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, although in reality, when has life and success ever stopped for Brady? He led the NFL in passing yardage last season with 4577 yards as he celebrated his 40th birthday, the third time he'd topped the league, but the first since 2007, and was named NFL MVP for the third time. Brady also went to his record eighth Super Bowl. Will age ever catch up to Brady? Eventually, but no sportsbook seems to think it will happen in 2018.
Over at Bovada, they list Brady as the +375 chalk to repeat as the NFL passing yardage leader. He's their +800 third choice to retain his title as MVP of the league, behind two other passers, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (+550) and Carson Wentz of Philadelphia (+700). At +350, Brady is second to Rodgers in Bovada's future book on who will throw the most touchdown passes in the NFL this season. BetOnline has Brady (+800) as their second choice for MVP, behind only Rodgers (+600).
Will He Be Cam-tastic? - It would be wrong to say Cam Newton had an off-year in 2017 - after all, he did take the Panthers to an NFL wildcard playoff position - but with the series of ailments that have plagued him the past two seasons evidently in the rear-view mirror, there is strong speculation that we could see the Newton of 2015 in 2018, the guy who led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, a 17-2 record and won the MVP, a double threat who that season became the first NFL QB to throw for 30 TDs (35) and run for 10 TDs.
If that is indeed the case, then some of the odds on offer in a variety of categories when it comes to Newton are most certainly worthy of consideration when it comes time to wager. Bovada lists Newton as +2000 to win the NFL MVP. They have him at a whopping +15000 to lead the NFL in passing yardage, and at odds of +5000 to be the QB who throws the most touchdown passes during the 2018 campaign. On the flip side, Newton is given odds of +750 to lead the NFL in interceptions in 2018.
Lucky Luke - Shoulder injuries have plagued Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly in recent seasons, so the odds that SportsInteraction are giving on the Carolina linebacker being the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2018 are at best puzzling. Kuechly is the sixth choice in the betting at +1600. Last season, his 125 tackles were his highest output since 2014, but still were only good for 10th overall in the league. But Kuechly did grab five turnovers - three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.