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News Blitz 8/22: What to watch for against the Panthers

Tonight the Patriots will play their last home preseason game of the year against the Carolina Panthers. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe explains what to watch for tonight at Gillette Stadium. The quarterback rotation, offensive line rotation, and safety rotation will be among the top things Volin will be looking out for tonight against the Panthers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer highlights four things to watch for tonight from the Panthers perspective.

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Another thing to keep an eye on tonight will be the wide receiver rotations -- specifically in regards to Josh Boyce. MassLive's Oliver Thomas says that Boyce is on the roster "bubble" and needs to perform well in the final two preseason games in order to make the team.

"Boyce will have to create separation in order to be one of them. Whichever manner he's dispersed to do so over New England's final two preseason games, he'll have to carve his moment," says Thomas.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald says that the Patriots have a lot of flexibility on defense due to their versitle linebackers and lineman. From 2011 through 2013, the Patriots used a 4-3 base defense but Howe believes that Belichick may choose to go back to the 3-4 in 2014.

"The 3-4 could give the Pats a chance to stay fresh on the edge a season after Chandler Jones and Ninkovich led NFL defensive ends in snap percentage," explains Howe. "Collins is athletically gifted enough to rotate outside, And because Jones can kick inside to defensive end, the Pats could still keep all three on the field at the same time."

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal also wrote about the Patriots transition back to a 3-4 defense and how it will affect Chandler Jones. He says that Jones is willing to play any position that Belichick asks him to.

"The Patriots have an intriguing trio in Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower. Belichick wants to keep them on the field," says Rosenthal. "If Jones can truly play outside linebacker, New England's lack of depth at defensive tackle won't show up as much. Vince Wilfork can play more at nose tackle, his best position."

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Josh Alper](http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/08/21/five-questions-new-england-patriots/) of NBC's Pro Football Focus previews the Patriots 2014 season by highlighting 5 questions that will decide the team's fate.

"Can they win the Super Bowl? They've certainly got a chance to get there in a conference that many believe is set up for another title game clash between Bill Belichick and Peyton Manning," believes Alper.

According to a recent Forbes study, the Patriots have the fourth best fans in the NFL. Forbes ranked each team based on five different categories and in the end, Greenbay Packers fans came out on top. The other two fanbases ahead of the Patriots' were the Broncos' at No. 2 and the Saints at No. 3.

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