New York Giants Preview: Week 5 at Carolina Panthers
The New York Giants are reeling once again, despite a strong Week 3 performance against the Houston Texans. Last week against the New Orleans Saints, they fell…hard. While the defense had a strong showing, the offense was anemic.
Now, they head down to Charlotte, North Carolina, to face off against Cam Newton and the Panthers in the “Gettleman Bowl.”
As usual, here are some things to keep an eye on during the game on Sunday.
Will Aggressive Eli Show Up?
As opposed to Week 3, Eli Manning was very conservative in his offensive approach. Unlike in the week prior, Manning was not looking downfield, as he didn’t throw a pass further than 15 yards against a lowly Saints pass defense. There were opportunities for Manning to throw the ball downfield, but he decided to checkdown instead.
In a recent interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN, Manning stressed that he can be aggressive in his decision making, but it has to be smart. However, considering he couldn’t get more than 300 passing yards on one of the league’s worst defenses through the air, there was no better chance to strike. And he missed out on it.
Now, he will have to strike against a Panthers defense that has allowed 246.7 yards per game (12th-least in the NFL). It will be a tougher task to pass on Carolina, and it will remain to be seen if the Giants can be more aggressive in their decisions.
Can the Giants “Show Heart?”
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr created waves throughout the NFL media landscape this week during an interview on ESPN. He claimed that the Giants needed to “play with some heart.”
Perhaps no one on the Giants showed more frustration last week then Beckham. He was screaming on the sidelines and had openings on the field, which were not picked up by Manning.
While many of Beckham’s critics did not take too fondly of the comments made by the wide receiver, the team certainly didn’t. Alec Ogletree made it clear that he had no problem with the wide receiver’s comments. Rather, he takes it as something to give the team a kick in the backside, heading into a must-win game.
We’ll see if the Giants will respond to Beckham’s critique.
Stopping Cam Newton and Rushing Attack
The Giants defense, who had an admirable performance against New Orleans last week, will have their hands full on Sunday. New York will likely get Eli Apple back on the field, arguably their top cornerback on the roster. Not only that, but defensive lineman Josh Mauro will be making his return from suspension.
New York’s defensive squad will have to contain dual-threat cornerback Cam Newton, who has proven to be a matchup nightmare for opposing teams throughout his career. Newton’s main weapon? His feet. This season, the former league MVP has rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. In fact, the Panthers have the NFL’s best rushing offense, averaging 166 yards on the ground per game.
Yet, he has not exactly been lighting up the stat sheet in the passing game. Through three games this season, Newton has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 636 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. Mauro’s entrance as a Giant will help James Bettcher’s defense, as they are dealing with yet another week without star linebacker Olivier Vernon, due to his troublesome high ankle sprain. The Giants have sacked the quarterback just five times this year, tied with the Oakland Raiders for the least in the league.
While Newton is a problem, so is running back Christian McCaffrey. The second-year rusher can carry the rock out of the backfield, as well as contribute in the passing game. McCaffrey has rushed for 271 yards on 46 carries, as well as hauling in 22 passes for 157 yards.
Newton will be the primary focus for the defense on Sunday, but the Giants defense has to keep an eye on McCaffrey as well. If not, they will get burned.
The Giants-Panthers game will air at 1:00 p.m. EST on FOX.
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