NEW YORK GIANTS (1-3, 0-1 NFC East) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-1, 1-0 NFC South)

Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Television: FOX (Kenny Albert, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver), Sunday, Oct. 7: 1:00 PM EDT

 

SERIES HISTORY

This is the 11th meeting between the Giants and Panthers dating back to 1995. Carolina leads the all-time series 5-4 and won the only postseason meeting in the 2006 Wild Card round. The Giants have lost consecutive games against the Panthers, including a 38-35 loss in Week 16 of the 2015 season.

 

LAST WEEK

Giants: Lost to New Orleans Saints 33-18

Panthers: Bye (Defeated Cincinnati Bengals 31-21 in Week 3)

 

LINE

Panthers: -6.5

Over/Under: 43.5

 

GIANTS INJURY REPORT

OUT: Tight end Evan Engram (knee), linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle)

 

PANTHERS INJURY REPORT

OUT: Linebacker Jared Norris (toe), tight end Greg Olsen (foot)

 

WHAT IS ON THE LINE

GIANTS: If there were such a thing as a must-win in Week 5, it’s this game for the Giants. They have been called out by the media, armchair analysts, and even one of the team’s best players. The Giants need this win on the road to save their season.

PANTHERS: Carolina last played almost two weeks ago when they beat Cincinnati. The NFC South has been surprisingly competitive. Carolina needs this win in order to keep pace with the surging New Orleans Saints.

 

KEY MATCHUP

Giants left guard Will Hernandez vs. Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short

Hernandez has established himself as a throwback offensive lineman: mean, physical, and unafraid of a challenge. He has improved in each of the Giants’ games, though his performance has been overshadowed by three losses. Hernandez will face his toughest test yet in Short. Short has at least six sacks in each of the past three seasons. He has two sacks and two quarterback hits so far this season. In the Giants’ first four games, the pass rushes came from the edges. Against Carolina, they will come from the interior.

 

HOW THE GIANTS WILL WIN THE GAME

Eli Manning is having the best statistical season of his career, completing 74.2 percent of his passes. Unfortunately, his accuracy has not translated into a bunch of yards (1,055) or touchdowns (four). The Giants have to score touchdowns against Carolina, field goals are simply not going to cut it. In order for the passing game to shine, Saquon Barkley has to have a standout performance.

Barkley became the fifth player since 1950 to record at least 100 yards from scrimmage in his first four games. He has to set the tone for the Giants’ offense early after carrying the ball just 10 times for 44 yards against New Orleans. Barkley’s blend of speed, elusiveness, and power could settle the Giants’ offensive line and give Manning the opportunity to attack vertically. And, make no mistake about it, Manning has to throw the ball down the field. Dinks and dunks are not going to work.

Head coach Pat Shurmur needs to try to win the game. All too often, he has coached as if he’s not trying to drop something. This isn’t Shurmur’s first go-round as a head coach. He will need to take some chances in order to beat a team that’s had two weeks to prepare.

The Giants offense will miss Engram in the red zone but still have Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard. They will be without their best pass rusher (Vernon) but will be getting back Eli Apple after missing the past two games with a groin injury. The Giants will need an excellent game from their defensive front and better containment on the edges from their outside linebackers.

 

HOW THE PANTHERS WILL WIN THE GAME

Cam Newton is a dual threat as a passer and rusher. Newton’s 4,456 rushing yards are the third-most in NFL history and his 57 rushing touchdowns are the most ever by a quarterback. He has been an accurate passer so far this season, completing 67.4 percent of his passes. He could pose problems for the Giants’ defensive front if he gets going early.

Alvin Kamara almost singlehandedly defeated the Giants a week ago with 134 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 47 yards. This week, they have to contain Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey is second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage per game (142.7). He has 22 receptions for 157 yards and represents a great check-down for Newton if the Panthers’ receivers are held in check. McCaffrey set career highs in carries (28) and rushing yards (184) against the Bengals before their bye week.

Carolina leads the NFL in rushing yards with 166 per game. The Giants have been particularly susceptible against the run, allowing 126 yards per game (29th in the league). Big Blue has also been miniscule against the read option. On Sunday, they will face the quarterback that is better at it than any of his peers.

The Panthers defense will have to keep Barkley bottled up. Rookie cornerback Donte Jackson has three interceptions so far but he will face either Beckham or Shepard.

WHO WILL WIN THE GAME?

The Giants are playing for more than just a win. They are literally playing for their season. No teams are eliminated from postseason contention after Week 5 but the record books don’t contain very many teams with playoff runs after starting 1-4. The Giants have been in this position before, specifically last season. This game won’t be as ugly as last season’s Week 5 (when they lost Beckham and their entire receiving corps). However, a fork will be stuck in the Giants’ season at this conclusion of this game.

 

FINAL

Giants—13

Panthers—21

– Curtis Rawls is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL, the New York Giants, and the NBA. Please like and follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitter. Curtis can be followed on Twitter @CuRawls203.

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