Patriots have short window to fix ongoing defensive issues

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dives for a touchdown past New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon (30) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Patriots knew the first month of their 2017 schedule would feature tough early matchups with Drew Brees and Cam Newton.

What they couldn’t have predicted is how much trouble they would also have with quarterbacks Alex Smith and rookie Deshaun Watson.

Watson only was able to give the Patriots a close call in Week 3. But Smith torched New England in Week 1, and Newton’s Panthers finally found their footing enough to walk out of Gillette Stadium with a 33-30 win on Sunday.