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NFL New England Patriots

5 Key Players For New England Patriots In Week 11

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5 Key Players In Week 11

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots face a tough test in Week 11, traveling to Bank of America Stadium to play the Carolina Panthers. Carolina has won five games in a row, including an impressive win over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

A huge part of that winning streak has been because of the play of the Carolina defense. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy form one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. Both of them are threats for double-digit sacks, which makes the Panthers one of the few teams in the league that have two dominant edge rushers.

How about we add a stud middle linebacker to the mix? Luke Kuechly is quickly emerging as one of the best players at the position, and he is only in his second season. His smarts and instincts are phenomenal. Kuechly quickly diagnoses plays, especially in the running game, allowing him to get downhill and make the play. And he doesn’t just defend the run either. The young middle linebacker has the athletic ability to drop back into coverage and make plays on the football.

Let’s move on to the offense. Obviously, the best weapon on the Carolina offense is Cam Newton. While he hasn’t had the same prior success that he has had with his legs, Newton has made progress with his arm. Instead of going for the big play time after time, Newton has continuously made the right decision to either check down or make the smart throw. The ability to both throw and run is making Newton more of a complete quarterback.

So, how can the Panthers be stopped? Here’s five Patriots players that might help crack the code.

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5. Rob Ninkovich, DE

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Ninkovich has a plus matchup against Panthers right tackle Byron Bell. He should be able to generate pressure in the passing game and set the edge to prevent Newton from taking off.

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4. Marcus Cannon, RT

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Cannon is facing a tough test whether he goes up against Hardy or Johnson. If he crumbles, then Tom Brady will crumble.

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3. Aaron Dobson, WR

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dobson can take advantage of Drayton Florence and company on the outside. He’s the most likely pass catcher to be open, because the Panthers' defenders will worry about taking out Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola.

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2. Kyle Arrington, CB

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Arrington will likely shift outside now that we know that Alfonzo Dennard is not playing. If so, he must do his best to contain Brandon LaFell, a wide receiver that has been coming on lately.

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1. Tom Brady, QB

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady is the straw that stirs the drink. He must be on his game so that he can take advantage of the average Carolina secondary. If not, the Carolina front four will swallow him whole.