By Eric Schmidt

The final game of week 11 of the NFL regular season will be played this evening with the Carolina Panthers hosting the New England Patriots. Football plans are treated to a great matchup this evening after several weeks of lousy Monday Night Football games. The Panthers are playing some very solid football currently, winning their last five games and six of their last seven. The Patriots will take the field the healthiest they’ve been offensively all season.

Carolina finds itself currently entrenched in the NFC playoff race. A possible NFC South division title is within reach with two games remaining against the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers defense has been the strength of this team, allowing just 12 points per game. They are coming off a west coast win over the San Francisco 49ers, a game which the defense just pummeled Niners QB Colin Kapernick.

The Patriots have struggled to field a legitimate offensive squad this season as injuries have taken their toll. New England holds a three game division lead in the AFC East and will get running back Shane Vereen back this week. Brady has struggled this season while the team tries to form an offensive identity.

The current line has Carolina giving three points at home with an over/under of 47. This is the most meaningful late season game being played in Carolina for many years but I won’t bet against a Patriots team coming off a bye week. Head coach Bill Belichick is the best in the league coming off a bye week. This game should be no different.

During the Panthers win streak, they have defeated some pretty poor teams. Minnesota, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Atlanta. They defeated a 49ers team which was playing without TE Vernon Davis after the 1st quarter. The Niners offense is wildly different without Davis in the mix.

Game Prediction: New England Patriots 23 Carolina Panthers 20

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Filed under: AFC, AFC East, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, NFC, NFC South, NFL

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