by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

Here’s how your team can go from 7-3 to 7-5 in two easy steps:

  1. Don’t show up in New Orleans, even if there’s a game scheduled there.
  2. Leave Miami early, even if there’s almost a full half to play.

Let’s pray that Carolina doesn’t end up as number three on this list. New England tries to get their eighth win on Sunday vs. Carolina. The good news? They’re at home. The bad news? Well, there’s plenty of that to go around.

After all, that’s why I’m here…

Over My Dead Bodden: We here at PD have heard of a phenomenon called a pass defense, though it has been so long since any New England fans have witnessed this concept that we’ve begun to question whether it ever existed. Leigh Bodden and Jonathan Wilhite both need some serious step-it-up action, and rookie Darius Butler requires some improvement.

A Serious Case Of The Runs: Hmm… that catchphrase might need work. Carolina runs the ball (152 yards per game, 4.8 per carry). Other than Vince Wilfork, who else on New England’s defensive line can hold down the front? A lack of run defense leads to help from the defensive backs, which leads to the above pass-defense nightmare. It’s a situation Captain Yossarian would understand.

Double Dog Derrick: Outside linebacker/tree stump Derrick Burgess joined the Patriots to bolster their pass rush. The short story? He has only two more sacks than I do, and I get winded going to the freezer for more ice cream. With quarterback pressure about as threatening as Switzerland, the Pats defense could continue to struggle.

Speaking of pass rushers…

Thomas’ English Muffled: After getting kicked out of a meeting for being late due to weather, it sure seemed like outside linebacker/disappointment Adalius Thomas said most of what he wanted to without actually saying it, right? Thomas answered all questions of the media while managing to avoid the actual words, “Coach screwed me.” How is this going to affect the team Sunday? Will the defense actually get worse?

Heh, heh. No. Come on. That can’t happen.

Butcher The Baker And The Oh-For-God’s-Saker: New England came into this season with a couple of solid tight ends. Chris Baker looked great in the preseason, providing another red zone option. Benjamin Watson had a Buffalo game performance that sent expectations of him back into orbit. Since Week One, though, neither tight end has shown much potential, and neither has avoided getting cut out of the offensive game plan. Carolina can hold down the Randy Moss/Wes Welker combo with no tight ends to worry about. And that’s no good.

You know what? That makes me think of this:

Lately He’s Just Coach Brien (No “O”): We here at PD would like to see a little more consistency with play-calling. It seems that de facto offensive coordinator/acid reflux agitator Bill O’Brien has yet to install an overall game plan that he fails to toss in the dumpster by the fourth quarter.  (This is spelled out quite well in Greg Doyle’s column this week, by the way.) If it’s working, Coach, let’s stick with it, okay?

Tom Tom Club: He’s going to name the baby Tom. I can feel it. He’s going to name the baby Tom Jr. and messageboards across the planet will light up with opinions and “Genius of Love” (a Tom Tom Club original) references. Just another distraction to add to this weird, unpredictable season.

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