Experts share their picks for the Patriots Week 9 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
Mike Reiss, ESPN:
Pick: Patriots 16, Panthers 12
Bold prediction: Panthers cornerback Stephon Gilmore will pick off Jones in his first game against his old team, and the kickers -- New England's Nick Folk and Carolina's Zane Gonzalez -- will ultimately be the top storyline in a low-scoring game. Folk is 20-of-21 on field goals and 16-of-19 on extra points, while Gonzalez is 13-of-15 on field goals and 13-of-14 on PATs. Gonzalez is hot, coming off a game in which he hit four field goals, including a career-long 57-yarder.
David Newton, ESPN
What to watch for: How will the run game play out? Both teams will want to take away the run and force the quarterback to beat them. Carolina has been efficient with that against a pair of rookie QBs this season, and the Panthers face another in the Patriots' Mac Jones. New England will likely face P.J. Walker with Sam Darnold in the concussion protocol, and Walker is prone to mistakes when he has to make a play.
Emmanuel Acho, ESPN: Patriots
Matt Bowen, ESPN: Patriots
Mike Clay, ESPN: Patriots
Jeremy Fowler: Patriots
Dominique Foxworth, ESPN: Patriots
Dan Graziano, ESPN: Patriots
Rob Ninkovich, ESPN: Patriots
Laura Rutledge, ESPN: Patriots
Kevin Seifert, ESPN: Patriots
Seth Wickersham, ESPN: Patriots
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com
Pick: Patriots 20, Panthers 16
Bill Belichick must have cracked a smile watching the film of the Panthers running 47 times and throwing it only 25 last week in a tight game -- at least until the game-sealing interception by ex-Patriot Stephon Gilmore. Carolina's defense is different with Gilmore in the mix, and with linebacker Shaq Thompson continuing his torrid season after missing three games to injury. Whether Sam Darnold or P.J. Walker is at quarterback, the Panthers are built to slow down the pace of play -- and they're built to slow the improving Patriots offense. This figures to look like a game that a young Matt Rhule, decked in Giants gear, would have enjoyed watching Belichick coordinate back in the late 1980s.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports:
Pick: Patriots 25, Panthers 17
The Patriots are playing consecutive road games outside the division, which can be tough. But they will be able to handle it behind an improving defense that will throw a lot at whoever plays quarterback this week fo Carolina. The Panthers have offensive line issues, which the Pats will exploit.
Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports: Patriots
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Patriots
Dave Richard, CBS Sports: Panthers
Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports: Patriots
John Breech, CBS Sports: Patriots
Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Sports: Patriots
Jared Dubin, CBS Sports: Patriots
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk:
Pick: Patriots 24, Panthers 17.
The Patriots likely will invade the AFC playoff field. The Panthers likely will be on the outside looking in, again.
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk:
Pick: Patriots 30, Panthers 20.
The Patriots feel like a team that could go on a playoff run after a slow start, while the Panthers feel like a team that's going to fall short after a hot start.
Paul Perillo, Patriots.com:
Pick: Patriots 23, Panthers 13
Tight defensive affair is broken open when the Patriots force a turnover to put the game away.
Mike Dussault, Patriots.com:
Pick: Patriots 20, Panthers 13
The Panthers are banged up on offense but still have an very good defense that will make life difficult for Mac Jones and the Patriots offense. Points will be at a premium but the Patriots pull out their third-straight win thanks to their offense being just a bit better and once again executing down the stretch.
Erik Scalavino, Patriots.com:
Pick: Patriots 24, Panthers 20
It helps New England's cause here that Carolina's two most important offensive players, QB Sam Darnold and RB Christian McCaffrey, are less than full strength and uncertain to be involved, if at all, but the Panthers have as stout a defense as the Patriots have seen this season. That could lead to a lower-scoring output on both sides, yet the Patriots manufacture just enough to continue their unbeaten-on-the-road streak going for another week.