The New York Giants will look to pull off an upset and get their second win of the season as they take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.
Despite changes to the coaching staff, front office, and several changes to their personnel, the New York Giants are once again off to a slow start as the team has only scored 20 points once in their four games this season.
Now they’re facing the (2-1) Carolina Panthers who are coming off a bye week, and whose defense has already sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times.
The last time the Giants won in Carolina was 2012 and if they’re going to pull off the upset on Sunday, they’ll need to play their best game of the year.
Here are the keys to victory for the New York Giants:
1. Have a balanced offensive attack
Last week against the Saints, the Giants had 44 dropbacks and only 15 rushing attempts. That’s one too one dimensional especially considering the game was close until the fourth quarter.
On Wednesday, Eli Manning was asked what the team’s offensive strategy should be against the Panthers.
“Obviously that’s up to the coach and his play calling, but obviously I think the goal is always to be balanced, it’s to run the ball, mix in getting the ball out quick, taking shots down the field, but it’s mostly just staying good down and distance and give yourself some chances to score touchdowns.”
The Giants will definitely need to have a more balanced attack against the Panthers to keep them off balance, and hope Barkley can wear down the defense. Barkley should get at least 20 carries on Sunday against a Panther defense that’s giving up 110 yards per game on the ground.
2. Attack the Panthers deep
For whatever reason, Manning is not challenging defenses down the field. As a result the Giants offense has been stagnant, and Odell Beckham Jr. is averaging a career low 10.7 yards per reception.
Manning must challenge the Panthers secondary deep with Beckham to spark the offense. Two positive things can happen when throwing the ball deep to Beckham, either he’ll make the catch or draw a pass interference penalty.
3. Keep Cam Newton from running for big gains
The Giants seem to always struggle against mobile quarterbacks and this year has been no different. The Giants have faced three mobile quarterbacks this season in Blake Bortles, Dak Prescott, and Deshaun Watson and have given up a combined 123 yards on the ground to these quarterbacks.
Cam Newton utilizes his scrambling ability as well as any quarterback in the league. So far this season Newton has 136 yards on the ground and has three rushing touchdowns.
When these teams last played each other was in 2015 where the Panthers won 38-35 and Newton ran the ball eight times for 100 yards. The Giants can’t afford for him to have similar success on Sunday or they’ll once again come up on the losing end.
4. Shutdown Christian McCaffrey
The Giants not only have to worry about Newton running the ball, but running back Christian McCaffrey has been one of the best backs in the league averaging 90 yards per game, and his 5.9 yards per carry is tied for third best in the league.
Damon Harrison was unable to practice on Wednesday (knee) but the team is hopeful he can play on Sunday. The Giants are also optimistic that Olivier Vernon will make his 2018 debut as he has always been solid against the run. Whether Harrison or Vernon plays, it’s going to take a total team effort to shut down McCaffrey and the Panthers ground game.
Win the turnover battle
It’s not a coincidence that the lone game the Giants won this year against the Houston Texans; they were plus two in the turnover battle. The Giants will need to once again win the turnover battle if they’re going to pull off the upset.
Whether it’s on defense or special teams, the Giants will need to force some turnovers and give the offense good field position.
Prediction: Everything seems to be in the Panthers favor as they’re at home, and had two weeks to prepare for the Giants. The Giants offensive woes have continued and players are starting to show their frustration. All of this equals a Panthers win. Panthers 20, Giants 17