This season has been all about the Carolina Panthers. After being buried as contenders in the offseason thanks to the loss of Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers have rolled through the league and stand at 13-0. Meanwhile the Giants have been mired in the dismal NFC East, which no one seems to want to win. Can the Giants end Carolina’s perfect season and take the advantage in their division? What else can be said about the Panthers this season? They have been dominant on both sides of the ball, with Cam Newton playing at an MVP level and the defense cracking the league’s top three over recent games. Carolina have beaten every NFC playoff contender that has come their way; Seattle, Green Bay, and now face the woeful Giants. Outside of the Eli Manning-Odell Beckham connection, the Giants have nothing that could make them a playoff contender. Yes, they have beaten unbeaten teams several times in the past, but that doesn’t matter now. Especially when facing a team that completely outclasses them.
Three Keys to the Game
Can the Giants stop the run?
A big part of Carolina’s success on offense this season has been down to Jonathan Stewart and the run game. However, Stewart will miss this week’s game with a foot injury. Fozzy Whitaker looks like he will start, and played well against the Falcons last week. Part of the reason why Carolina have been so dangerous on the ground is because of the danger that Cam Newton poses as a runner. Even without Stewart, it will be tough for the Giants to stop the Panthers running the ball.
Pressuring Eli Manning
Unlike the Panthers, the Giants don’t have any running game to speak of. Which means no ground attack to take pressure off Eli Manning. The Giants have one asset on offense; Odell Beckham. Unfortunately for them, Beckham’s talent can’t be used if Manning is under intense pressure. And the Panthers have a defense capable of generating pressure from anywhere. If Eli doesn’t have time to throw to Beckham, the Giants have zero chance of upsetting the Panthers.
Carolina’s passing game
With Newton being so mobile, opposing pass rushes have trouble getting to him. Not great news when you don’t really have a pass rush. Jason Pierre-Paul still isn’t 100% after his gruesome injury. He can still be fast, but he doesn’t seem to be able to finish tackles. As limited as JPP is, he’s still New York’s best pass rusher. The Giants also do not have a strong secondary, as rookie safety Landon Collins hasn’t had the impact they hoped. Despite lacking conventional number one receivers, Carolina have built the league’s top scoring offense around their system, and no one seems to have been able to stop them so far.
Match-up to watch
Josh Norman vs Odell Beckham
In what could possibly be the match-up of the year, Carolina’s Dark Knight will take on New York’s Joker as rising corner Josh Norman battles rising superstar Odell Beckham. Beckham has been electric this season, and is once again one of the league’s top receivers. However, Norman has thrived against top receivers this season. So far he has held DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones to a total of 89 yards. Even if Beckham presents more of a challenge for Norman, rising star safety Kurt Coleman will be able to lend a hand. The Panthers won’t really have to divert extra resources to the run or other receivers, so should be able to lockdown Beckham.
There is no miracle upset brewing in the Meadowlands. The Giants have nothing on offense outside of Odell Beckham, and Carolina have more than enough star players to cover him. The Giants won’t be able to stop Carolina’s offense, so expect the Panthers to advance to 14-0.