Team Giants


Giants - Panthers
Game 7 preview
Sunday Oct 24, 1:00 PM - Panthers at Giants

Giants (1-5) Panthers (3-3)
Last Sunday in Carolina, the Panthers fought it out with the Minnesota Vikings. They were down by 11 points in the fourth quarter, but forced the game into overtime. The Vikings won the coin toss, and went on to win the game with a 34-28 score.
The Giants held a halftime celebration of the 10th anniversary of their 2011 Championship team. By then they were losing to the Rams 28-3. Things did not get much better for the home crowd fans as the game moved on, with Giants taking a 38-11 loss.

Carolina Panthers
The Panthers won the division title three years straight from 2013 to 2015. That last one was their best, as they were 15-1 during the regular season and went all the way to Super Bowl 50, where they lost to the Denver Broncos. Ron Rivera was their head coach, and quarterback Cam Newton was the NFL MVP of the year. In 2017, an 11-5 record had them in second place in the NFC South division, and they lost in the wild card game to the New Orleans Saints.
Since then they haven't won more than 7 games in a season. Matt Rhule is in his second year as the Panthers head coach, and when they got off to a great 3-0 start in 2021, it looked like things had been figured out. In the offseason the Panthers felt they checked all their needs with 11 draft picks, free agent pickups, and a trade bringing the Jets 2018 third-overall pick, Sam Darnold to the team.

Carolina Panthers Offense
Sam Darnold got off to a good start in his new career with the Panthers, winning his first three games. Since then the Panthers have dropped three, so what happened? Well, Darnold had running back Christian McCaffrey in the lineup for those first three games. Over that time, aside from running for a 3.9 average carry, McCaffrey was 16 of 17 catching Darnold's passes, for an average 10.2 yards a catch. McCaffrey missed the last three games, and is now out for at least the next two after being placed on injured reserve with a hamstring issue. Darnold also lost another familiar face right before the losing stretch when Carolina traded tight end Dan Arnold to the Jaguars. The team had defensive needs after losing rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn, their first round pick - eighth overall, to a broken foot.
Without those two players, the offense took a step back, even with rookie running back Chuba Hubbard doing well. Hubbard was drafted in the fourth round by Carolina, and as a starter, is averaging over 4 yards a carry, and he can also catch the ball. Catching the ball is something that was really lacking in last week's game.
Darnold's two top receivers came up short. DJ Moore and Robby Anderson combined for six of eight drops. On top of that, Moore also turned the ball over on a fumble. Darnold finished 17 of 41 for 207 yards with one touchdown and two turnovers, after bringing his team back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit with two minutes left. On that drive Darnold started from his own 4-yard line. He had to get past two fouth-down plays, and did so with a 41 and a 25-yard completion to force overtime. Minnesota won the coin toss and scored a touchdown to win the game.

Carolina Panthers Defense
This defense ranked about average overall last year compared to other teams. They had improved a bit from the year earlier with their rushing defense, but dropped markedly in the areas of sacks and interceptions. In 2020 the Panthers had only 7 interceptions, and 29 sacks. Despite that, they held other teams scoring to 25.1 points a game, a nice improvement over the year earlier. In the offseason they didn't sleep on their needs, signing pass rushers Haason Reddick and Morgan Fox. They also added linebackers Denzel Perryman and Frankie Luvu. As we mentioned, for the secondary, the Panthers drafted talented cornerback Jaycee Horn, and signed experienced cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Rashaan Melvin.
All this was working well for the first three games where they gave up a total 30 points. In the next three opponents have scored 91. They led the league with 14 sacks after the first three weeks. Since then only 2 sacks, and none last week against the Vikings where Kirk Cousins threw for 373 yards, and 3 touchdowns. This defense is real tough on third and fourth-downs, where they rank second in both areas. Opponents are 21-of-71 on third down, for a 29.6 percentage, and on fourth down 28.6.

Giants Offense
You won't win football games if you can't score points, and that's the job of the offensive unit. Last week the Giants scored just 11 points, their lowest of the season. That was in part thanks to a late fourth quarter touchdown once the Rams were sitting on a 35 point lead. The game started with the Rams giving up an opening drive field goal, and allowed no more points to be scored for the rest of the game up to that point. It's hard to score points when you can't field playmakers, and this week running back Saquon Barkley has been ruled out of the game.
Daniel Jones needs someone to throw to, and wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, have been ruled out. Wide receivers John Ross, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, and tight end Evan Engram are listed as questionable. Wide receiver David Sills has been signed from the practice squad. Sills spent the 2020 season on IR after fracturing his foot in training camp. In the 2021 preseason Sills had a team high 7 receptions, for 94 yards, and 1 touchdown.
Devontae Booker will be the go-to man for the running game, and the Panthers defense has shown some weakness there. Opponents are averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and while they held each of their first three opponents to under 50 rushing yards, they've allowed an average of 178 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks. You'd expect the Giants to test that with Booker this Sunday.

Giants Defense
You won't win football games if you don't stop the other team from scoring too many points, and that's the job of the defensive unit. Right now the Giants have given up 177 points, tied with the Miami Dolphins for the most in the league. It seems they can't get past losing middle linebacker Blake Martinez, their leading tackler, when he tore his ACL playing against Atlanta. Things have been off, and the defense is giving up big plays. Opposing quarterbacks aren't being pressured and are completing 74 percent of their passes.
Even though they came up with two sacks last week against the Rams, a team that had allowed a league-low 4 sacks, Matt Stafford had all the time in the world to pick his targets. Edge rushers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines have no sacks on the season. Rookie Azeez Ojulari did get off to a great start with his three sacks, but he's had none in the last three games.
The Panthers offensive line is not one of the best. Sam Darnold can be pressured, and he's thrown six interceptions over the past three games after throwing only one in the first three. Darnold's been sacked 12 times the past three games without Christian McCaffrey being an available outlet. Seeing how things have been going with all the pressure on Darnold, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has stated that he plans to put more emphasis on the running game. That could work out better for the Giants for their secondary coverage, but they still have to stop the run, and they rank 29th in rushing defense.

The Panthers got off to a fast start this season, but now have lost their last three games. The Giants looked to have turned the corner after an 0-3 start, when they upset the New Orleans Saints, but they dropped the last two games by wide margins. Each of these teams would love to close out the day with a win.
Either way, their fans would have loved to have seen two of the NFL's top running backs on the field, but Christian McCaffrey is on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, and Saquon Barkley is out with a bad ankle. One thing the Giants will have to watch out for is Sam Darnold being suddenly inspired in his first trip back at MetLife Stadium. The former Jet will be throwing to Robby Anderson, who was his best touchdown target for two seasons when they were both playing for the Jets.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Panthers (3-3) at Giants (1-5).
Sunday at 1:00pm Washington (2-4) at Packers (5-1).
Sunday at 4:05pm Eagles (2-4) at Raiders (4-2).
No NFC East teams are favored to win in these games.
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Giants have at least one takeaway in each of their first six games for the first time since 2011.

Graham Gano kicked winning field goals the last two times these teams played when he was with the Panthers. Gano made a 43-yarder in 2015, and a 63-yarder in 2018.

Next Games
Nov 1 Giants at Kansas City
Nov 7 Las Vegas at Giants

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