NEW YORK GIANTS (1-1)
at CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-1)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -1, Total: 52
Two teams riding high after explosive wins meet in Charlotte on Thursday night when the Panthers host the Giants.
The Giants’ patchwork defense will have their hands full in this one. With their injury-plagued secondary still rounding into form, not to mention their banged-up linebackingcorps, Tampa’s underwhelming offense scored 27 points against them in New York. The Panthers got their offense back on track in a home win over New Orleans last week, rushing 41 times for 219 yards (5.3 YPC) as they steamrolled their way to a 35-27 victory. Eli Manning was strong in the Giants’ 41-34 comeback win against Tampa, finishing the victory with a career-high 510 passing yards, but also had three first-half interceptions to put them in a hole.
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Manning’s 510 passing yards were three shy of Phil Simms’ franchise record, but New York became the first team in NFL history to have two receivers catch at least 10 passes for 175 yards in the same game. Hakeem Nicks finished with 199 yards on 10 catches and Victor Cruz grabbed 11 passes for 179 yards. Both players also scored touchdowns. The Giants may need to air it out again on Thursday because top RB Ahmad Bradshaw is not likely to play in this game after leaving the Week 2 victory with a neck injury. However, Andre Brown filled in nicely for Bradshaw last week with 13 carries for 71 yards (5.5 YPC) and a touchdown. New York’s offense may also be without OT David Diehl, who injured his knee against Tampa Bay. On the defensive side of the ball, injuries abound, specifically CB Prince Amukamara (ankle), LB Keith Rivers (hamstring) and DE Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) who are all questionable to suit up on Thursday. When these teams last met in 2010, a 31-18 Giants win, New York’s defense forced five Carolina turnovers and held the Panthers to a mere 237 total yards of offense.
Panthers QB Cam Newton bounced back from a poor Week 1 showing (1 TD, 2 INT, four rushing yards) and exploded on the Saints for 253 passing yards (12.7 YPA), 71 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) and two total touchdowns. His 14 completions went for an average of 18.1 yards per reception, led by Steve Smith’s 104 yards on just three catches. The three-headed RB monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert rushed for a combined 123 yards (4.6 YPC) and two scores. Defensively, the Panthers allowed the high-powered Saints to roll up 486 total yards of offense, a huge jump from Week 1 when they limited the Bucs to just 258 total yards. Carolina enters this game relatively healthy, but G Mike Pollak will likely miss this game because of a shoulder injury.