Thursday games mean less rest, less time to prepare and less of a chance for guys with injuries being ready to go. That said, for both the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, having two games just five days apart isn’t actually a bad thing (Today, 8.20pm ET, Thursday Sept 20).
In fact since both teams are coming off great wins, the Giants with a miraculous fourth quarter comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Panthers, a solid offensive and defensive showing against division rival the New Orleans Saints, neither really wants the extra two days of rest. Both teams definitely hope to keep the momentum going.
I hate to recycle an analogy that has been used all too often, but games really are won and lost based on who each has going under center. Luckily enough for the Giants and Panthers, their signal callers are two of the best.
Eli Manning: The Comeback Kid
Eli Manning, Giants QB, officially supplanted himself as the fourth quarter comeback kid after last week’s performance against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Manning’s Giants were down 27-16 going into the final quarter but he managed to lead his team to victory. He orchestrated three brilliant touchdown drives in the final seven minutes of the game and helped the Giants to walk away with a much needed 41-34 win.
Last season, Manning led the league in these fourth quarter comeback drives. On top of that, his QB rating was the best of anyone in the final quarter of the game.
It was a big win for the Giants who avoided a 0-2 start with the win. Eli especially was magnificent throwing for 510 yards, the eighth highest in a single game in NFL history. 243 of these yards came in the fourth quarter.
For as good as Eli has been in the fourth quarter these past two years, he has been inconsistent throughout the rest of the game. For example, against the Bucs he threw three interceptions early on in the game and put the Giants in a big hole going into the half.
Run Cam Newton, Run
Considering the way the Giants secondary is really not holding up this year, Manning will have to put forward a better performance if his team hopes to beat the Panthers. On top of their solid defensive line, the Panthers boast one of the best running quarterbacks in the league in Cam Newton.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
+110 Giants +1pt; -130 Panthers -1pt
Bovada (all US except Maryland, Utah, NY, Washington):
-120 Giants +3pts; Evens Panthers -3pts
Bet365 (for UK & all non-USA residents):
20/21 Broncos +2.5pts; 20/23 Panthers -2.5pts
After a dominating rookie of the year campaign last season, Newton began 2012 doing exactly the same thing. Although the Panthers lost their first game against the Buccaneers, Newton put on a show in the air. He completed a hint under 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 303 yards, one TD and an interception.
It was in the game against New Orleans however that Newton really shined. In the air he threw for 253 yards and a TD and on the ground, Newton ran 13 times for 71 yards and another score.
Although the Panthers relatively perform better when Newton runs, they have not fared accordingly when it comes to rushing touchdowns. The team is 5-6 in games in which Newton has at least one rushing TD but 6-3 when he has at least 50 yards on the ground.
Who Has the Better Offense?
Both the Giants and Panthers have incredibly potent offenses and as a result, this game could be a high scoring affair.
New York boasts what has become one of the best receiver tandems in the league, when healthy. Leading the way is Hakeem Nicks who finally appeared to be recovered from the injury that hampered him down the stretch last season and in the Giants opener against the Cowboys. As Eli’s number one target, Nicks, who earned the NFC offensive player of the week honors, caught passes for 199 yards. The problem was however that he re-aggravated his injury late in the game and was one of a few key inactives that did not make the trip with the team to North Carolina.
Victor Cruz has been someone who has really come through for the Giants since emerging last season. He caught passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the game against the Buccaneers. With Nicks and third best wide receiver Domenik Hixon out with injuries, Cruz will become Manning’s number one guy. As a result, he will also get a lot of attention from the Carolina secondary which could hinder his production.
The Panthers also boast a solid offense. Behind QB Cam Newton, the Panthers have one of the best wide receivers in the league in Steve Smith and a nice running back combo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. In addition to these players, the Panthers also scooped up Mike Tolbert last offseason. Tolbert is a prototypical tailback and third down back. He only has five total yards on the ground this season but he has also gone for a touchdown.
New York’s Defensive Line
Although the New York secondary has not been as advertised this year, their line is still one of the best in the league. Headed by Jason Pierre-Paul, who has one sack and seven tackles so far on the season, the Giants have the defensive ends to really pressure a quarterback.
The problem for this defense however is that Newton isn’t just any quarterback. He has great speed and great legs giving him the ability to keep a play alive when the pocket collapses. He has the capability to run but he also has the capability to move. This season he has only been sacked four times in 14 attempts. What this shows is that although the Panthers offensive line isn’t really good at protecting the QB, that Newton is very able to protect himself. This ultimately could cause the Giants ends some trouble on Thursday.
Giants vs Carolina Panthers Betting Picks
Limping into this game, the Giants will be down several important role players on offense for Thursday’s game. WR Hakeem Nicks, RB Ahmad Bradshaw and OL David Diehl are three of five players that did not make the trip to Charlotte. All of three of these players’ impacts will certainly be missed.
For this reason, I find it hard to believe that the Panthers won’t win this game. They are in a better shape in terms of injuries and are coming off a great defensive showing against one of the league’s most potent offenses in New Orleans.
- Take the Panthers to beat the -1 point spread with BetOnline Sportsbook @ -130. They should even beat the -3pts spread with Bovada @ evens.
- Despite the Giants missing a handful of key players, Manning will still find a way to air it out. Although the Panthers performed admirably against New Orleans, their defense is still toward the lower half of all teams in pass defense and well down near the bottom as they are ranked 28th in rush defense. For this reason, expect this game to be a shoot-out between two talented QBs. On top of taking the Panthers to beat the spread, take the over 49 points @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook as well (it is over 50 points @ -110 with Bovada).
- Non-Americans can place the same wagers with Bet365 Bookmaker.