Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman
Step right up and watch the Match-up of the Century, folks. The shut down corner who calls himself the Dark Knight and is considered the best in the game vs. the hottest receiver in the game in Odell Beckham, a guy who might be the second coming of Jerry Rice.
We went into full detail on the match-up earlier in the week. Suffice it to say, best-on-best is always fun, and that's what this should be.
Can anyone else make a play?
Let's be realistic here. Beckham might be able to make a few plays against Norman, but it's highly unlikely the Giants -- as they too often do -- will be able to live on Manning-to-Beckham alone. They need the rest of their "sometimes" offensive weapons to show up against Carolina. That's you, Rueben Randle. Will Tye, Dwayne Harris (if he plays) and maybe Hakeem Nicks, too. That means Ben McAdoo needs to remember that Shane Vereen is on his team -- hey, Ben, he wears No. 34. Oh, and he can catch the ball and outrun linebackers. And that No. 26 -- Dark-wing, Darkwood, Dark Knight -- Darkwa. Yeah, that guy. Get him in the game, too. Just keep 44 away from the ball.
Can the Giants stop the run?
Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers' leading rusher with 989 yards, won't play due to a foot injury. That, however, doesn't mean Carolina won't be able to run the ball effectively. The Panthers still have Cam Newton. They have fullback Mike Tolbert, who has been successful as a runner in the past. The Carolina fan base has also been looking forward to seeingwhat Cameron Artis-Payne, a fifth-round pick who has only 31 yards on 12 carries, can do.
Even without Stewart, the Panthers have a solid offensive line and a power running scheme. Carolina is second in the league in yards rushing per game at 141.9. The Giants are 16th in the league against the run, giving up 110.2 yards per game.
The Giants have to tackle better than they did on Monday, when the only thing they could manage to hit was their own head coach They also have to defend the zone read better than they historically have. Otherwise, Stewart or no Stewart, Carolina will just grind them into the MetLife Stadium turf.
Turnovers and penalties
The Giants simply can't have them on Sunday. The Panthers are the better team. The Giants have to play a clean game to have a chance -- they can't give the Panthers opportunities with turnovers, or ruin their own chances with turnovers and bad penalties. Carolina leads the league in turnover ration at +18, while the Giants are No. 3 at +12. The Giants will need some breaks, and they certainly can't afford to give anything away to the Panthers.
Can the Giants keep Eli clean?
Eli Manning is comng off a career-best 27-of-31 game on Monday. One of the keys to that was that he was never sacked by the Miami Dolphins. In fact, he was rarely harassed. Sunday, though, the Giants face a team that is third in the league with 40 sacks. Carolina has 16 different players who have quarterback sacks this season, and four player with five or more. Defensive tackle Kawann Short has nine, linebacker Thomas Davis 5.5, defensive end Kony Ealy five and defensive end Mario Addison five.
The Giants are going to need to score points to beat the Panthers. Manning is going to have to be upright for the Giants to have a chance to do that.