The Carolina Panthers and New York Giants both come into Sunday’s contest reeling and in desperate need of a win. Some called last week’s game for the Panthers a “must win”, but against the Giants it truly is. The Giants on the other hand appear to be in a division in which nine wins may be enough to capture it. They’ll need all the fan support they can get, so if you’re looking to see Carolina in action, make sure to grab Panthers tickets here to cheer them on.
Here is a look at some key matchups that will play a pivotal role in which team comes out victorious, and avoids an 0-3 start.
Eli Manning Vs. Panthers’ Secondary
The Giants’ pass offense has been piling up yardage, but seven interceptions through two games by Manning has hindered New York. Everyone’s attention will be locked in on how the bruised and battered Carolina secondary will hold up against all of the receiving options the Giants have.
This is a matchup that significantly favors Manning and nobody is going to deny that, but the question at hand is whether or not the Panthers will be able to come up with a couple of picks. It may be the only way to stop this passing attack unless Carolina’s front four plays like it did in Week 1 against Seattle.
The Panthers are without starting cornerback Josh Thomas who is out with a concussion. Safety Quintin Mikell is also out, which means Robert Lester will be starting. Lester was brought up from the practice squad and his presence on the field illustrates how banged up Carolina truly is. That’s not meant to be a knock on him, but you typically don’t go from practice squad to starter in a matter of a few days.
Ron Rivera Vs. Ron Rivera
You know who is going to get Rivera fired? Himself. The man is his own worst enemy and has not made the proper adjustments in his third year to justify an objective viewer to have faith in him. He continues to repeat past mistakes and spew the same “We have to get over the hump” nonsense in his press conferences.
The man came across defensive and stubborn to the media this week and didn’t own up to his failures. I want Rivera to succeed and for him to prove everyone wrong, but he is making it hard to root for him.
Will Rivera be able to conquer himself and be more aggressive in certain situations?
History says no.
Edge: Not Ron Rivera
Cam Newton Vs. Cam Newton
Sticking with the theme of the previous “matchup” I’ve pitted Cam against himself. It’s clear that Newton has all of the physical tools to succeed at this level, but he too has been his own worst enemy; whether it be through sulking on the sidelines or giving the media something to write about after a postgame press conference (the infamous suggestion box). We haven’t seen Cam locked in this season and as Steve Smith alluded to this week he’s pressing.
We’ve also seen Newton try and transform himself into a pocket passer through two games and not use his legs as a weapon. This is something the coaching staff has emphasized, but he is ultimately the one making the decision whether he runs or not when Carolina uses the read-option.
The Panthers haven’t surrounded Newton with enough weapons, his offensive line stinks and the play calling has also been atrocious. But great players find ways to get the job done and there have been plenty of opportunities the young quarterback has left on the field.
It’s time for Cam to put this team on his back.
Edge: Not Cam Newton
MonStrz Inc. Vs. Giants’ O-Line
Carolina’s front four has to be fantastic each and every week for this defense to hold up. That wasn’t the case against the Bills. EJ Manuel had plenty of time to throw and was rarely under pressure. Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy were non-factors rushing the passer, the second game in a row in which Hardy wasn’t noticeable. Star Lotulelei has played well through two games and has shown why Carolina was smart in selecting him.
New York’s offensive line has given up four sacks on the year, but there biggest problem has been their inability create running lanes. The Giants’ running backs have 31 carries for 65 yards. I’d call that pathetic but pathetic would be offended. Carolina’s strength is stopping the run, so don’t be surprised if the Giants just decide to air it out all afternoon.
That’s why “MonStrz Inc.” has to apply consistent pressure on Manning to help cover up the leaky secondary. Johnson and Hardy have to be able to get on track otherwise this could get ugly.
Edge: MonStrz Inc.
Panthers’ O-Line Vs. Giants’ D-Line
This matchup is the biggest of the game. Newton was consistently harassed last weekend and he was never able to get comfortable. He’s been sacked seven times this season to go with a billion quarterback pressures (all numbers accurate). If Carolina has hopes of being in this game yet alone winning it, the Panthers are going to have to score plenty.
The offensive line is going to need to give Newton time to find his receivers and to create more running room for DeAngelo Williams. Williams has been solid so far, but is often getting hit near the line of scrimmage. When he’s had space to operate he’s hit the hole and picked up nice gains.
New York’s defensive line hasn’t torn it up through two games, but hey, a date with Carolina’s offensive line is just what the doctor ordered.
Edge: Giants’ D-Line