Yes the Giants will be scoreboard watching this weekend hoping Washington falls to Buffalo and Arizona beats Philadelphia, but they have to take care of their own business against a Panthers team that has yet to lose a game this season.
The Panthers sit at 13-0 led by their Quarterback Cam Newton who is having an MVP season. Newton has thrown for 3,062 yards with 28 touchdowns. Yet his arm may not be his most dangerous weapon. He is one of the most mobile Quarterbacks in the NFL as he has rushed for 480 yards thus far this season and ran in seven touchdowns.The Giants a defense who has trouble stopping the run due to being a poor open field tackling team may be in trouble Sunday if they can’t keep Newton in the pocket. They will look to make Newton try to beat them with his arm rather than his legs despite the fact the Giants secondary ranks dead last against the pass this season.
The reason the Giants would want Newton to throw rather than run is because the Giants are one of the best team’s in the league at forcing turnovers. The Giants defense is tied for 6th in interceptions and has the third best give/takeaway ratio in the NFL at +9. Only trailing Kansas City and their opponents the Carolina Panthers who rank number one in the league at +18.
Cam Newton however has thrown 10 picks this season and facing a ball hawking Giants defense may lead to a bit of a tough match up if he kept in the pocket.
The Panthers defense has been phenomenal this season leading the NFL with 33 takeaways eight more takeaways to the NFL’s second ranked takeaway team the Philadelphia Eagles. The Panthers defense unit also ranks third in total yards allowed, and tied for fourth in points allowed per game.
The Giants offense will be in for a tough match up but there is reason for optimism for Giants fans.
The Giants have the NFL’s 6th best passing attack and average 26 points per game as an offense good for seventh best in the NFL. Carolina does rank fifth against the pass in total yards allowed however they will have their hands full with Eli Manning coming off a day where he had arguably his best game as a pro. He completed 87% of his passes in route to throwing for 337 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
At this point it is safe to say Odell Beckham JR may be the best Wide Receiver in the NFL coming off a game where he scored two touchdowns including one that went for 84 yards hauling in 166 yards on the day total Beckham now ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards at 1,320 yards, ranks eighth in the NFL in catches at 85, and is tied for the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns at 12.
Beckham will match up with Carolina Panthers Cornerback Josh Norman who quietly has become one of the game’s elite cornerbacks. Norman facing up against some of the games other elite receivers has been phenomenal this season.
Against Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Bucs, DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, TY Hilton of the Colts, and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons he gave up a combined 89 yards yards with no touchdowns an incredible stat line.
Odell Beckham JR should be Norman’s biggest test off the season and will be the match up of the day.
If Norman does a good job stopping the human highlight reel Beckham look for the Giants to either put the ball on the ground with Rashad Jennings who ran for 81 yards a week ago, or use other passing game weapons Will Tie, Rueben Randle, and Dwayne Harris.
The Giants need this game to keep pace in the NFC East while the Panthers at 13-0 have already locked up their division and a first round bye for the playoffs. The Panthers however are looking to become just the third team in NFL history to finish a regular season unbeaten. This game is going to be close but in the end the Panthers seem like a great team and they may just be too much for the Giants Panthers win 38-35 in a shoot out. A Giants loss would be crushing but with the Eagles and Redskins both having tough match ups this week and the fact the Eagles and Redskins still have a meeting left a loss to Carolina would not yet destroy the Giants playoff hopes.