Coming off a win over NFC South rival Atlanta last week that broke a four-game winning streak, the Carolina Panthers host the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 7, starting at 1 p.m.
While he hasn’t officially been ruled out as of Friday at noon, Carolina has been preparing to play without quarterback Sam Darnold, who suffered a concussion in the win over Atlanta. For the season, Darnold has completed 60.8% of his passes for 1,814 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
If Darnold can’t play, the Panthers will start P.J. Walker under center. Walker has completed just 20% of his passes (3-of-15) this season. In four games in 2020, he completed 57.1% of his passes for 368 yards and one touchdown against five interceptions.
Carolina (4-4 record) could have back on offense this week All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, who has missed the team’s last five games with a hamstring injury.
McCaffrey returned to practice Wednesday in a limited role and is listed as questionable for the game against the Patriots.
New England (4-4 record) ranks No. 12 in total defense, allowing an average of 352.9 yards per game. The Patriots have allowed opposing quarterbacks a rating of 82.5 on average, which ranks third in the league behind Buffalo and New Orleans.
Defensively, Carolina will look to slow down rookie quarterback Mac Jones and the New England offense. Jones — the No. 15 pick in this year’s NFL Draft — has completed 68.1% of his passes for 1,997 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. He has been sacked 15 times in eight games.
One defensive player who will be playing with a lot of emotion is cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who spent four seasons with New England before he was traded to Carolina several weeks ago.
Last week, in his season debut, Gilmore had an interception and posted a coverage grade above 90, according to Pro Football Focus. This week he should be inspired playing against his former team.
This week, Gilmore told ESPN that he didn’t like the way New England handled his torn quadriceps injury, which caused him to have offseason surgery. He missed the start of training camp in July and didn’t make his season debut until this past week against Atlanta.
The 31-year-old Gilmore, a Rock Hill, S.C. native, will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2021 season. He is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.