Giants-Panthers Preview

The Carolina Panthers kickoff their 2010 season tomorrow against the New York Giants. Personally, I would be thrilled if it went similar to the last time we played the Giants where we embarrassed them in their last game at Giants Stadium. The chances of that happening are slim but I think Carolina does have their fair shot in this game.

There’s a lot of concern for Panthers fans going into this game after how the offense played in the preseason. No touchdowns and averaging only 8 points..yikes. This was partially due to the coaching staff using more of a pass-first philosophy. With Steve Smith out and the rest of the receiving corps being a hodgepodge of rookies and unproven vets, the Panthers used the preseason to see what they had here. That said, there weren’t too many standouts and the only threat at WR is still Steve Smith. Thankfully, Carolina should revert back to their old philosophy of running the ball down the Giants throats on Sunday.

How will the Giants respond to this though? They have a new look on defense with new coordinator Perry Fewell taking over. Their awful run defense was due to poor coaching and injuries. This year they have a healthy Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard, which should help things a lot. They also drafted DT Linval Joseph out of East Carolina, who was a force there. Adding Keith Bulluck at linebacker should also improve their D, as well. Going up against DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart should be a good test for Fewell’s new system. I don’t expect them to be rock solid, so I hope Double Trouble can get a few big gains on them.

It’s no secret that the Panthers offense looks pretty one-dimensional right now so Matt Moore is going to have to make some plays through the air. The Giants will eventually crowd the box with 7-8 guys to shut down Williams or Stewart, that’s when play action will become Moore’s best friend. He has Smith and TE Dante Rosario to bail him out for now but Dwayne Jarrett, Armanti Edwards or Brandon LaFell are going to need to step up sooner or later. Moore’s going to have to be cautious, though. When you have a ball-hawk like Antrell Rolle lurking in the secondary then bad things can happen when you over throw a pass or misread a route. Moore played well against the Giants last year, but they didn’t have Rolle then so it could change. There’s also a chance that Moore wont be as effective now that teams have some film on him.

Despite how bad the offense looked, the defense was phenomenal in preseason. They were going up against 2nd team offenses for a lot of it, so it’s hard to judge how they’ll do once the real action starts. Eli Manning is probably glad that he wont have to deal with Julius Peppers anymore, but Everette Brown has been impressive at rushing the pass this preseason. Him and Charles Johnson could be trouble for Manning if they can keep it up. The Giants have a pretty balanced offense, but I expect them to run with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs for the most part. The Panthers DT’s aren’t great at all, so they should be able to get some momentum with them. Stopping the run will be key for the Panthers because then they force the game into Manning’s hands.

Not that this is a good thing for the Panthers either since he is capable of tearing up this secondary if he’s given enough time. I noticed that we blitzed more in pre-season and if we get to Eli fast enough and not give him any time to throw, then we should be in good shape. If we don’t, then it’s going to be a long game. I’m high on FS Sherrod Martin but he’s only started a hand full of games and is prone to blown coverages. Mr. Manning will pick that apart the moment he sees it and his receivers are good enough to make the plays when they need to.

Overall, I’m expecting this to be a hard-nosed, low-scoring defensive struggle with a lot of running plays from both teams. It’s definitely a winnable game for the Panthers (mostly because it’s the first game of the year…) but it’s not going to be an easy one like the last time we played the G-Men.

Prediction:

Panthers 20 Giants 14

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