Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/17/12

N.Y. Giants at Carolina

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. - TV: NFL Network

*TV announcers: Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan

*Keys to the game: Slow starts and self-inflicted wounds, chronic issues for the Giants in 2011, knocked offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride out of a comfort zone again last week. And losing RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) put the full weight of the offense on QB Eli Manning, who was 31 of 51 for 510 yards in a shootout victory. The Panthers don't have a feared defensive front, but their cornerbacks -- particularly Chris Gamble -- aren't easily beat one-on-one. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, who combined for 21 catches for 378 yards last week, put a world of stress on any secondary. The Giants are all too familiar with coverage woes, and must be mindful of QB Cam Newton's foot speed by keeping pass-rush lanes narrow. But it's not just Newton. The Panthers got their running game healthy -- 41 attempts for 219 yards, including a career-high 71 from Newton -- in Week 2. Breakdowns in the fourth quarter helped Dallas and Tampa Bay spring big plays and there's reason for Giants coach Tom Coughlin to worry about depth at the position with WR Brandon LaFell starting to fulfill promise opposite Steve Smith.

*Matchup to watch - Giants DEs Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Panthers RT Byron Bell: Bell, a penalty prone undrafted free agent, has held off freakish athlete Bruce Campbell to date but the Giants rotate their ends to expose weak links. They can beat Bell with speed or power.

*Player spotlight - Giants RB Andre Brown: By his count, Brown has been involved in 20 roster transactions. With rookie RB David Wilson in the doghouse and Bradshaw hurt last week, Brown led the Giants in rushing, had 90 total yards and scored the game-winning touchdown against Tampa Bay.

*Fast facts: In seven career victories, Newton has zero interceptions. In his other 10 starts -- all losses -- Newton has 19 interceptions. ... The teams have split two previous games at Carolina.


The Giants could soon scrap their plans for a balanced offense with Eli Manning winging it at a record pace not by script, but because the leaky secondary and turnovers have backed them into a corner. Cam Newton and the Panthers can pull the upset by hogging the ball and avoiding turnovers.

*Our pick: Giants 30-24

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