FOXBOROUGH – After two fight-filled joint practices, gameday between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers is finally close.

New England hosts Carolina in a game where it's expected to play a majority of its starters for the first time in the preseason. Here are four bold predictions for Friday night's game.

4 bold predictions for Patriots game vs. the Panthers

4. Mac Jones airs it out

In the early portion of training camp, Mac Jones began the practices at the start of his second year by largely playing it safe.

Jones mostly threw short-to-intermediate passes, which could’ve been a result of the offensive line’s poor play. Jones dialed up his arm a bit in this week’s joint practices with the Panthers, finding players downfield far more than he did in the first few weeks in practice.

Outside threats DeVante Parker and Nelson Agholor were actively targeted on Tuesday and Wednesday. Parker had a pair of jump ball catches — or, in his words, 80/20 balls — on the outside before adding a third catch on a slant later in the day. He also drew a pass interference on another target, with his size clearly being used as an asset.

Agholor had his second standout practice of the week on Wednesday. The veteran receiver caught all four passes Jones threw to him, including two receptions in the back corners of the end zone.

Inside targets Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne weren’t targeted as much. Bourne was tossed from Tuesday’s practice early due to fighting and was working with the second unit for much of Wednesday’s practice.

3. The run game will be non-existent

New England ran the ball only 18 times in its preseason opener against the New York Giants. It did nothing this week that suggested it’ll either run the ball a lot or have success running the ball in Friday’s game.

In Tuesday’s practice against the Panthers, the Patriots only ran the ball eight times by my count. They had very little success on almost all of those rushes.

Damien Harris got stuffed on runs up the middle. So did Rhamondre Stevenson. Wednesday’s practice featured very few rushes too, with the Patriots' ground game getting stopped on the outside too.

The backups didn't get much shine in practice this week, but when they got shine against the Giants, they ran for very few yards. Fourth-round rookie Pierre Strong was their leading rusher in that game, but ran for only 25 yards on six carriers. Sixth-round rookie Kevin Harris had a rushing touchdown. However, he only had nine rushing yards on six caries. As a whole, the Patriots rushed for just 52 yards – good for 2.9 per carry.

2. The secondary will have the strongest performance out of all the position groups

One of the more consistent parts of the joint practices was that the Patriots' defensive backs won many of the battles against Panthers quarterbacks and receivers.

Top corner Jalen Mills, in particular, had strong outies in both practices. On Tuesday, he recorded three pass-breaks-ups while mostly guarding Panthers' top receiver D.J. Moore. On Wednesday, he intercepted a Sam Darnold pass to Moore, making a great read along the sideline to catch and had the awareness to keep his feet in bounds. Mills was also in the area to force an incompletion on a Darnold pass to Moore.

Jonathan Jones and Marcus Jones should be who Patriots fans keep their eyes on the most though on Friday night. The former appears to be moving from slot corner to outside corner this season. Moore caught a pair of jump balls over Jonathan Jones during Wednesday's practice, but the veteran corner also had a couple of pass break-ups throughout the week.

The other Jones, the Patriots' third-round rookie, appears to be replacing Jonathan Jones in the slot. Marcus Jones was one of the fastest corners in this year's draft class and his speed could make him an asset if he goes up against Robby Anderson, who's questionable for Friday's game. As for the backups, fourth-round rookie Jack Jones had a nice showing against the Giants last week while Terrance Mitchell has had some good moments in camp.

Friday's game will likely be the final showcase for Baker Mayfield and Darnold before Matt Rhule makes his decision on who the Panthers' starting quarterback will be. I would expect at least a fair amount of passes from them if that's the case, I think will lead to a strong day for the Patriots' defensive backs.

1. No fights will break out

This normally shouldn't be considered a real prediction of any sort. But after what transpired in the two joint practices this week, everyone might be expecting some bad blood to spill over into the game.

There were a total of five fights throughout two practices, with receiver Kristian Wilkerson reportedly suffering a concussion on a hit from Panthers safety Kenny Robinson, who appeared to taunt Wilkerson after the play.

Robinson was the common denominator for a pair of those fights, getting ejected from Tuesday and Wednesday's practices. Rhule said that he didn't rule out cutting Robinson following Wednesday's practice.

Carolina is expected to rest most of its starters for Friday's game, meaning several players on its side will likely have something to prove. Fighting is certainly not a way to do that.

In addition, players on each ice will subject themselves to possible discipline from the league if they fight in a game as opposed to practice. That's even more incentive to believe things will be calm, at least relatively speaking.