Undefeated, Favored Panthers No Scare for New York Giants…Possibly

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The Carolina Panthers should beat the New York Giants on Sunday. They’re undefeated, they’ve been hot all season and have a probable MVP quarterback. Can’t help but feel as if the Giants have been through this before.

By Jeff Weisinger

The New York Giants’ matchup against the 13-0 Carolina Panthers is familiar territory for Big Blue. They took on a Patriots team in 2007 that was looking to go undefeated in the regular season finale, and lost 38-35. The Giants did, however, go on to win three straight playoff games on the road, on their way to upsetting the Pats in Super Bowl XLII.

But you can go even further to reminisce the last time the Giants have been in this scenario.

In Week 15 of the 1998 season, Big Blue took on a 13-0 Denver Broncos team that was on their way to their second straight Super Bowl with the future Hall of Famer John Elway at quarterback. The Broncos had the highest-scoring offense in the AFC and the Giants were under .500 at 5-8. It was a 1 p.m. kickoff, clear with light winds in the low 40’s. The Giants won that game 20-16 on a pair of touchdowns passes by then-Giants quarterback Kent Graham.

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The Giants defense held Elway to under 200 yards through the air while Graham tossed for 265 with the pair of scores. The win sparked a three-game win streak for the Giants to help them end their season on a high-note.

“Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said, via MMQB.

But if there’s any team perfect to ruin the historical run of other teams, let alone make a run of their own, it is the Tom Coughlin-Eli Manning led New York Giants.

If you want more similarities, Graham wore No. 10 and his top-target was a deep-threat in Amani Toomer, who helped the Giants win the game. Eli wears No. 10 and has an exciting deep-threat in Odell Beckham Jr., who can change the outcome of a game in just one play.

Include the similar projected weather with all of the other aspects, everything is in place for a Giants upset. Big Blue is currently a six-point underdog, riding a 6-7 record going into Sunday’s game, looking to continue their hunt for a playoff spot.

But the biggest question isn’t if the Giants will win or lose – that will be debated regardless.

The real question that needs to be asked is: which Giants team will show up on Sunday?

Will we see the same Giants team that had Eli Manning throw for four touchdowns on a night where he looked like an old Super Bowl MVP, completing 27-of-31 passes (87.1 completion percentage, a franchise record) for 331 yards with no interceptions and a defense that shut down Miami in the fourth quarter? Or will we see the same Giants team that came out completely flat against the Redskins in an important divisional game and one that blew a 10-point lead against the Jets in the final few minutes of regulation, missing a game-tying field goal in overtime?

The win could possibly set up something special for the Giants down the final stretch. They can still win the NFC East and lock one of the top four playoff spots with a 9-7 record if they can win-out the rest of their schedule; and if anyone remembers the last time the Giants entered the playoffs at 9-7, they also remember the rings that came at the end of that run.

“Hey, if the Giants make it, good for them, because remember a couple years ago, they were 9-7, they weren’t one of the best six records, but they won the Super Bowl,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said, via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

Rivera is no stranger to winning a division with a “weak” record. Last year, Carolina won their division with a 7-8-1 record, defeating Arizona in the wild card before losing at Seattle in the divisional round.

“They got in because they got hot, they won their division, gave themselves a chance, and next thing you know, they win the Super Bowl.”

It’s fair to believe that history will repeat itself at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. In the Super Bowl era, just eight teams have started a season 13-0, including Carolina. Excluding the only two teams to go undefeated in the regular season (1972 Dolphins and the 2007 Patriots), four of the other five teams lost in Week 15 – one coming at the hand of Big Blue.

It’s also fair to believe that this Carolina team could go the distance, becoming just the third team to go undefeated in the regular season and, possibly just the second team to go fully undefeated, Super Bowl included.

Yet, it’s fair to believe that if the Giants are going to make a Super Bowl run, or even a playoff run, a win against the currently undefeated Carolina Panthers would be the perfect spark.

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