The New York Giants need a win in Carolina. Going 0-3 could be disastrous for their season. Luckily, the Carolina Panthers are 0-2 as well and have some major weakness, despite a lot of talented players.
The Panthers have a strong run game, even without their No. 2 back in Johnathon Stewart. With Stewart out, Deangelo Williams shoulders the load, but he is certainly capable.The Giants have struggled against outside runs, especially last week as Knowshon Moreno had two touchdowns runs when Giants’ defensive ends lost contain. Mathias Kiwanuka was the main culprit, and it simply cannot continue against a capable running team with a mobile quarterback in Cam Newton. Look for Newton to run as well, especially in short distance situations.
In terms of passing, the biggest threat to the Giants is the Panthers’ tight end, Greg Olson. Steve Smith is talented as well, but the Giants and Prince Amukamara have done well slowing top receivers. However, they have struggled more with good tight ends. Jason Witten had a productive game in Week 1, showing that the Giants do not have a solid secondary player to cover tight ends. Each linebacker has weaknesses a good tight end can exploit. To solve the issue, the Giants have implemented a lot of Cover 2, meaning no single player must cover the tight end; instead, the zone spreads the pressure out. Unfortunately, Cover 2 can be hard to run against a top running offense, especially when the quarterback runs. Hopefully the front four have a respectable game, so that the Giants can continue to run Cover 2.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers are very strong upfront, but weaker in the secondary. They have a good defensive line and a great linebacking core, led by Luke Kuechly. Kuechly may be the top linebacker in the league, and his presence will make it hard for the Giants running game to get going. In fact, do not expect the Giants to run very often, as the Panthers do not have the cover corners to match up with the Giants’ awesome receiving core. Eli Manning should start to find a rhythm this weak, even after a terrible, seven-interception beginning to the season.
All in all, the Giants are the better team. However, if they keep shooting themselves in the foot like they have in the past weeks, the Panthers have the talent to punish Big Blue.
Prediction: 24-17 Giants