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Week 3: Giants-Panthers matchup analysis

The SportsXchange

New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. - TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: The Giants want nothing more than to establish a running game, but the offensive line has yet to gain traction in 2013 and New York lacks a featured back to lean on when games get tight. Eli Manning is the league leader in interceptions, yet this isn't the week to bridle the passing game. Victor Cruz, averaging 18.2 yards per catch, is a matchup nightmare for the Panthers in a week when they'll be using a mishmash of available personnel due to injuries. To avoid communication breakdowns, Carolina is likely to keep the scheme simple, which sets up nicely for Manning if he can avoid taking big hits from the Panthers' front seven. The Panthers have rushed for at least 100 yards in 26 of their past 32 games and will test the discipline level of the Giants' second-level defenders. If linebackers are out of position, RB DeAngelo Williams and QB Cam Newton can bleed the clock and draw defensive backs in tight to set up play-action passes to TE Greg Olsen and WR Steve Smith.

*Matchup to watch - Olsen vs. Giants LB Keith Rivers: Olsen leads the Panthers in receptions (12-140), playing to the weakness of New York's pass defense, which has allowed 14 of 18 targets to opposing tight ends to be completed for 117 yards and three touchdowns through two games.

*Player spotlight - Giants RB David Wilson: Fumbles were a bugaboo in Week 1, and coach Tom Coughlin put Wilson on the field for just 24 plays last week. If he can't prove trustworthy, Da'Rel Scott and Brandon Jacobs are likely to dig further in Wilson's playing time.

*Fast facts: The Panthers are 2-14 games decided by seven points or less under coach Ron Rivera. ... The Giants are minus-8 in turnover margin. ... Newton is the only player in NFL history with 8,000-plus passing yards (8,274), 40-plus TD passes (43), 1,500-plus rushing yards (1,500) and 20-plus rushing TDs (22) in his first 34 games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Carolina's injury-depleted secondary is the recipe for a Giants rebound, as Eli Manning and Co. get healthy by keeping the ball in the air.

*Our pick: Giants 27-22
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