The New York Giants meet the Carolina Panthers in Thursday night's NFL Network match-up of the week. Each team enters the contest at 1-1, and will be looking to gain an edge against an in-conference opponent who they may eventually end up jockeying for playoff position against.
For the G-Men, their topsy-turvy schedule to begin the 2012 season continues. They played the season opener on a Wednesday night, then had a week and a half off until Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now it's a another quick turnaround for a midweek, primetime game, and that's not a good thing for the team, which lost many several players to injury last weekend.
Ahmad Bradshaw has been ruled out for the game with a neck injury. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon is out with a concussion, and key offensive lineman David Diehl will also miss the game with a knee injury. On the plus side, Hakeem Nicks will be available for the return to his hometown of Charlotte, despite re-aggravating his foot and ankle against the Buccaneers.
The Giants and the Panthers met in the first preseason game of 2011, long before anybody could have projected the sensational rookie campaign that Cam Newton ended up having. Here, containing Newton will be the main key to victory for the Giants.
To accomplish that, they should rely upon the super-athletic and versatile Jason Pierre-Paul on the line. Not many players can keep up with Cam Newton in the open field, and bring him down, but Pierre-Paul should be up to the task. The best approach would be to not only use him to pressure Newton, but to keep contain on him on his side of the field.
Keeping DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in check will also be key. Last year, the Panthers led the NFL with a 5.4 yards per carry average.
Perhaps more important though will be keeping tabs on wide receiver Steve Smith. The Giants have, for as long as I can remember, always had a problem with a player with the sheer downfield speed of Smith. They'll need to provide some safety coverage over the top, so Smith doesn't shred the defensive backfield like Vincent Jackson and company did last week.
While the continuing 4th quarter magic by Eli Manning is fantastic, certainly it's in the team's favor to simply avoid the costly early mistakes which put them in that kind of hole.
If Manning and his receivers protect the football, and JPP and company can corral Newton, the Giants should be able to get the victory.
Sources: Giants.com, New York Post
Jake Emen is a lifelong Giants fan from New Jersey. He also runs the boxing news website ProBoxing-Fans.com. You can find more of his writing at the site, or you can follow ProBoxing-Fans.com on Twitter, @ProBoxingFans.
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