Help has arrived for Tom Brady, with TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Danny Amendola and RB Shane Vereen all back in the lineup. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough for the New England Patriots against a hot Carolina Panthers team that came in riding a five-game winning streak.
On the road against one of the NFL’s top defenses, the Patriots lost a tough one, but they’re still competitors for the 1 seed in the AFC. With his weapons healthy Brady had a good day considering the competition, completing 29/40 passes for 296 yards with a TD and an INT.
New England’s 24-20 loss on Monday night, has put even more pressure on them for their enormous Sunday night matchup at home against the Denver Broncos this weekend. If the Patriots can come away with a win, they still have a reasonable chance to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Beating Denver would put New England two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the 1 seed and a game behind Denver, and both teams have much tougher remaining schedules than New England.
After the Broncos, the Patriots have no matchups against winning teams for the rest of the season. New England may not have won on Monday night, but they looked good against one of the NFC’s best teams on the road. Now that the offense is healthy, the Patriots should be one of the most feared teams in the NFL, regardless of what playoff position they end up with.