The New England Patriots will look to secure their third straight win when they host the Carolina Panthers this weekend. Game time will be at 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 1 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The game can be seen on local CBS stations.

Oddsmakers have made the Patriots 9-point favorites at home. That line is up slightly after New England opened at -8.5. The over/under for the game is set at 48.5 points. Click here for a full list of the Week 4 betting odds and links to more game previews.

Panthers vs Patriots Vegas Odds & Game Preview

New England has bounced back after a surprising Week 1 loss, but the Patriots still don’t look as good as they were advertised before the season. They managed to beat the Saints comfortable in Week 2, but the Patriots needed heroics from Tom Brady in the final minutes against the Texans last week to avoid a second home loss in three weeks.

The issue has been New England’s defense, which is giving up the second most points in the NFL. The Patriots are giving up points in large quantities and have managed just three turnovers in three games. With the New England defense unreliable, it’s put a great deal of pressure on Brady and the offense.

The Panthers have had the opposite problem. Despite giving up 34 points to the Saints last week, the Panthers have one of the top defenses in the country. But if the defense doesn’t show up, Carolina has little hope of winning because of its sluggish offense.

Cam Newton looks very much like a quarterback that had shoulder surgery in the offseason. He’s thrown just two touchdown passes on the season and been sacked 10 times. Carolina isn’t using him much in the running game, nor are the Panthers using their wide receivers a ton in the passing game, making them quite limited on the offensive side of the ball.

Free Pro Football Pick Against the Spread: Panthers +9

I know it’s the Patriots at home and the Panthers are coming off an ugly loss at home last week, but nine points is a lot to swallow. Even in defeat last week, the Carolina defense played well. The Panthers were simply done in by turnovers. I’ll lean toward the Carolina defense doing enough this week to keep it close and beat the spread.

As well as Brady played last week, he’s not getting the support he’s accustomed to getting. He’s already been sacked 10 times in three games and the New England running game is average at best. The Panthers should be capable of keeping the running game contained and putting some pressure on Brady, preventing the New England offense from clicking on all cylinders.

Click on the link for more free NFL betting predictions from our experts on staff.

It’s also important not to lose sight of New England’s porous defense. The Patriots were out-gained by the Texans last week, and that was with Houston starting a rookie quarterback. Of course, I’m not expecting the Panthers to light up the scoreboard after the way they’ve played early in the year. But as long as Newton can avoid turning the ball over the way he did last week, the Panthers should find some success on offense. If nothing else, Carolina should move the ball well enough to take time off the clock and limit Brady’s opportunities with the ball, which will be essential on the road.

To be fair, it’s hard to imagine the Panthers being able to find a way to win this game. In crunch time, I don’t see the Carolina offense being able to put together a game-winning drive. But I do expect the Carolina defense to keep them in the game and at least help them beat the 9-point spread.