It might still be the beginning of the season, but in week two, the Giants played like they historically do at the end of the year.
Trailing 27-16 in the fourth quarter, Eli Manning put a first half that included three interceptions behind him and ended the game with 510 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Just like their quarterback, the Giants must put their success in game two behind them; and they have to do it quick. On Thursday they play a primetime game against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Just like every game has already been this year for the Giants, this game should go down to the wire yet again.
This game will be won by the team who wins the battles within the game. With that being said, let’s take a look at the five biggest matchups that will be played out on Thursday night.
Justin Tuck (left, 91) and Jason Pierre Paul (right, 90) will have their hands full with Cam Newton and the Panthers. PHOTO COURTESY: CHRIS PUSATERI/CREATIVE COMMONS
5. Giants Defensive Line vs. Carolina Offensive Line: Always looked at as one of the strong points of the Giants, the team only has four sacks after two games this season. More notably, Jason Pierre-Paul has been relatively quiet this season with only one sack. If the Giants want to win, they will need to pressure Newton but at the same time not allow him to run wild.
4. Steve Smith vs. the Giants Secondary: The one weakness of this team has been the play of the secondary. Almost every defensive back on the roster has been bitten by the injury bug, and the secondary was exploited for the first half of the game vs. the Buccaneers. The unit is inexperienced, and veteran cornerback Corey Webster had this to say after the Giants win on Sunday:
“I think we gave up too many big plays, and that’s what we tried to eliminate. I think we did a great job of trying to correct some of those mistakes, but we still have a long way to go.”
Through two games, the Giants are 22nd in the league in pass yards given up, which is good news for Carolina’s Steve Smith. Smith has been Newton’s number one target since the two have been playing together, and they will look to continue their growth as a passing tandem.
3. Giants Rushing Attack vs. Carolina’s Defense: Ahmad Bradshaw left Sunday’s game with a neck injury but Andre Brown came in and made people forget about Bradshaw. The former fourth round pick piled up 71 yards and a touchdown and was substituted before rookie David Wilson, whose role has diminished so far this season. Don’t expect Wilson to go away though because if Bradshaw can’t play, Wilson could have a big role on Thursday. The Panthers have the 28th ranked rush defense in the league so look for the Giants to run more than usual.
2. Hakeem Nicks/Victor Cruz vs. Chris Gamble/Josh Norman: The Giants have arguably the best two receivers in the league. The Panthers will need more than Gamble and Norman to cover Nicks and Cruz, but these will be the guys getting the bulk of the work. The Panthers are right in the middle of the pack in passing yards allowed (225.5 yards/game ranks 13th in the league), but they haven’t seen a passing attack like the Giants’ yet this season. The Giants second ranked offense is powered by their 348.5 passing yards/game, which ranks first. They will need Nicks and Cruuuuuuuuuz to keep playing at the high level that they are playing at so far.
1. Cam Newton vs. the Giants defense: The most prolific player in the game is Carolina’s young quarterback who made his mark in the NFL a year ago to the day. Newton had his career high in passing yards against the Packers when he put up 432 yards and solidified himself as a mainstay in the league. Newton has started off hot this year as well compiling 556 yards and a quarterback rating of 100.8. Take the shaky Giants secondary and it could be a nightmare for the G-men.
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