Wednesday, September 19, 2012

THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW


NEW YORK GIANTS @ CAROLINA
The Giants haven’t had a losing record on the road since 2003, dating back before Eli Manning’s rookie season.  Three of the last four seasons they have posted a record of 5-3 or better whilst traveling.  The Giants have beaten the Panthers three out of the last four times they’ve faced them, the last game being a 31-18 drubbing at the Meadowlands in 2010.  Enter Cam Newton, the new face of the Carolina franchise and the type of quarterback that can give high pressure defenses like the Giants fits.  Newton's ability to scramble and shake off defenders reminds the Giants of another quarterback that has given them difficulty in recent years, Michael Vick.  Both teams have similarly ranked defensive units right now, with the Giants ranked 19th and the Panthers just behind at 20th.  Both teams cede over 100 yards per game on the ground.  Where they differ is Carolina’s pass defense is yielding just 225 yards per contest, while the Giants offense is first overall in passing offense, generating 348 yards per game, not to mention last week's 500-plus passing yards on the Bucs.  Carolina has a weaker run defense, so expect the Giant to employ Andre Brown in an attempt to keep the game stable, as Ahmad Bradshaw has been ruled out for this game.  With veteran tackle David Diehl questionable, the road could be rocky, as if it wasn’t already behind this 24th ranked rushing unit.  It appears Hakeem Nicks** has a nagging foot problem, and even though he hasn’t practiced this week, he’s expected to play.  If you saw him Sunday though, you know he’s playing through pain.  This is important as Nicks haunted the Carolina secondary in their last meeting, putting up three touchdowns.  He’s a solid start this week, as is Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett.  Realizing the Giants have had just two drives that have gone three and out, expect Rod Chudzinski’s offense to use a lot of running formations and play-action to slow down the Giants pass rush.  The Giants are giving up 4.6 yards per carry so you'll see a good amount of attempts from their three-headed monster of Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  Stewart is again questionable on the short week with his ankle, and if he can't go, Mike Tolbert can fill in as a more physical replacement.  Wide receiver Steve Smith, who has caught no less than five passes for 70 yards and score in each of their last two meetings, has a sore knee.  Newton is going to have to spread the ball more with Smith ailing, and facing a Giants secondary looking to take him out of the equation.  Look for Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy to fill the void, but I don’t expect a big night from any of them.  The Giants have simply been unstoppable on the road, but for two weeks in a row they’ve found themselves playing from behind a double-digit deficit.  This time they won’t be able to overcome it.  Newton rushes for two scores and throws another.  And though Nicks and Cruz put up good numbers, it’s not enough.
 
PANTHERS 31, GIANTS 24

** HAKEEM NICKS will not travel with the team to Carolina and has been ruled out for Thursday's game.