Week 3 Thursday Night Showdown: Giants at Panthers
The Giants and Panthers are both coming off big wins, but know they can’t take their foot off the gas now. The Giants are struggling to regain their Super Bowl form, while the Panthers would love to make a statement in front of a national audience. The Giants seem to play better on the road than at home (both of their Super Bowl runs consisted of them playing primarily on the road throughout the playoffs), so it will be interesting to see if they can get some defensive intensity back in their first road game of the season.
The Panthers currently lead the league in yards per passing attempt, and they will be going against a secondary that has not looked strong thus far. The Giants will be hoping to get CB Prince Amukamara back from injury, which would certainly help matters. The big question is if the Giants’ pass-rushers can get back to playing at the level they were late last year. The Panthers’ offensive line has not looked great so far, and the Giants best chance of slowing down the Panther passing game is to harass Cam Newton enough to keep him from getting comfortable, which the Bucs did a good job of doing in their week 1 win over the Panthers. Newton is a great improviser, but with athletes like Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora on the defensive line, Newton may have a harder time than usual escaping pressure. Of course, the Giants will need to slow down the Panther run game before they can let their pass-rushers lose
New York Offense
The Giants may be without the services of running back Ahmad Bradshaw, which means they are likely going to rely heavily on their passing game. Carolina’s cornerbacks are going to have a very hard time matching up with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, so Eli Manning will likely keep going to his two favorite receivers. Chris Gamble will match up with one of them, but it’s unlikely Josh Norman or Captain Munnerlyn can handle the task of defending either, meaning a lot of safety help could be necessary. This could be a good week for one of the Giants’ reserve receivers to step up, as the Giants would probably prefer to force the Carolina defense into a nickel package and not have all their linebackers on the field. Carolina’s defense ranks 28th against the run right now, so the Giants would be wise to not abandon their ground game just because Manning threw for 500 yards last week. HB Andre Brown had a good game last week and this could be a great opportunity for him to earn a prominent role in the Giant offense.
RT Byron Bell v DE Justin Tuck
Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the league’s most dynamic pass-rushers, and LT Jordan Gross will certainly have his hands full, but the real mismatch will be on the other side of the line. Justin Tuck has not had a strong start to the season, but he may be primed for a big game with Bell blocking him. If he can own the matchup, Tuck can be very disruptive against both the run and pass.
WR Steve Smith v CB Corey Webster
There’s no question who Cam Newton’s go-to guy is. Corey Webster, by far the Giants most veteran corner, will likely be dealt the difficult task of covering Smith. It’s hard to see Webster staying with him all game, but if he can prevent him from getting big plays downfield, he will have done a good job.
At the end of the day, it seems Carolina’s offensive line and secondary will be overmatched by the Giants’ pass-rushers and receivers. The Giants used this formula to win the Super Bowl last year, and this is a great chance for them to get back on track. The Giants struggled against the Cowboys’ big receivers and Tony Romo’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly, but the Carolina offense is quite different. If the Giants can limit the Panther run game and stop them from getting into a good offensive rhythm, this will be their game to win.
SU Pick: Giants
ATS Pick: Giants -1