Can the New York Giants, who barely missed a chance to slay Goliath earlier this season when they nearly knocked off the then-unbeaten New England Patriots, make their second chance count? The Giants (6-7) host the unbeaten Carolina Panthers (13-0) Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Here are your Big Blue View staff predictions for the game.
Alex Sinclair (11-2)
I have absolutely no business picking the Giants to win this game, but I'm gonna do it. Their defense is terrible, they can't run the ball and the offensive line has more injuries than an emergency ward on Halloween night. I don't care. It's Week 15, and I'm going out on a limb because it will make the game more fun to watch. The Giants have about three games per year where they're a total let down and at least one where they pull out all the stops and win a big one. This is it. They're going to do it.
The Panthers have Cam Newton, who certainly gets my MVP vote this year, but everyone has off days. This could be it. A couple of turnovers, maybe a special teams score and is it that crazy to think the Giants could scrape out a close win? Let's do this. Give me the Giants in a Christmas miracle.
Final score: Giants 31, Panthers 28
Chris Pflum (7-6)
What? You asked for an explanation? Do I really have to for this one?
I actually don't think that this game is going to be the blowout that it looks like it should be. It was probably a good thing for the defense to get a look at the read/option last week, and I think bringing Cofield back in the fold will help the defense. On the other side of the ball, New Orleans were able to score despite all the Panthers' defensive talent, and the Giants can play a similar style of offense. Interestingly, Sean McDermott and Steve Spagnuolo share philosophical roots under Jim Johnson. It probably means nothing, more of a fun fact, but it might come into play.
If the offensive line was healthy, if Hankins was healthy, if Kennard was healthy ... Yeah, my prediction would be different. But this is a game where I think the Giants could come out and play like a bunch of crazed dogs, play like their hair is on fire -- still not sure how that's supposed to be a good thing, but whatever -- but in the end I don't think it matters. The Giants very well could have the lead at some point in the game, but they don't have the firepower to seal the deal.
I want the Giants to win. I'd love to see them get some kind of revenge for David Wilson's career. I just don't think it's going to happen.
Final score: Panthers 27, Giants 24
Stephen Milewski (9-4)
The Carolina Panthers are on a roll, and there's no denying it. Cam Newton is likely the frontrunner for the MVP award, and their defense has several Pro Bowl caliber players. Given the Giants' struggles, it's tough to pick them, but I think the Giants have a slight chance.
However, the Giants will NEED someone outside of Odell Beckham Jr. to play great in this game. I do think Beckham will get his in some regards, but Carolina's Josh Norman has blanketed top receivers all year and is playing like the best cornerback in the NFL right now. Someone else will have to step up, whether that's Rashad Jennings, Rueben Randle, or someone else entirely. My X-Factor for this game is Dwayne Harris. The Giants need him to not only make a difference in the slot, but in special teams as well. As we saw in Big Blue's victory against the Cowboys earlier this season, a special teams touchdown could be the difference.
I think this game will be an offensive shootout. The Panthers haven't scored less than 27 points in a game all season, and the Giants have the worst pass defense in the NFL. It's a recipe for disaster. But then again, so was New England, and that game went to the last second (in a game the Giants probably should have won). The Giants will play spirited and compete well, but I think the Panthers just have too many advantages for me to truly believe Big Blue can pull off the upset.
Final score: Panthers 41, Giants 28
Mike Gallop (8-5)
This will not happen. But I had a fantasy playoff-fueled dream that we beat the Panthers 9-3 (my opponent in our Montauk league semi's has Eli and ODB going). Who am I to tempt fate?
Final score: Giants 9, Panthers 3
Jesse Bartolis (9-4)
[From Jesse's Week 15 picks against the point spread]
The narrative of this game will be so much about how the Giants are in their fourth year again and Coughlin is on the hot seat and the Giants should be 10-3 but they are not and it's a fun narrative and keeps things interesting, but this Giants team is outclassed and there area ton of match-up problems the Giants have against the Panthers. One, the Panthers generate a ton of pressure up the middle, which is Eli's Achilles heel. Second, the Giants cant cover tight ends and running backs, or stop running quarterbacks, which is essentially the entire Panthers offense. Josh Norman might be the best cornerback in football and if he can minimize Odell Beckham bad things will happen for the Giants offense. The Giants can't run on seven-man fronts against any team in the league so they certainly will not do it this week. This is a bad match-up for the Giants, getting a very good team that is on a mission to go undefeated. The Giants do not get the benefit of a trap game because of this mission and I don't see great things for this game
Pick: Hope I'm wrong, but Panthers big
Keane Macadaeg (7-6)
The undefeated Panthers will likely stay undefeated unfortunately. While they haven't dominated the scoreboards as much as other undefeated or even one loss teams late into the season, the Panthers are still a very threatening group. Cam Newton will likely have his day as a rusher against this woeful Giants defense. I'm not scared of their passing attack and with Jonathan Stewart out, perhaps their offense takes awhile to figure it out. But their offense isn't what makes the Panthers dominant.
That belongs to their menacing defense. Their front seven as usual is top notch and it'll be another test for the Giants offensive line. Defensive stars in Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman will also make it hard for Eli Manning to get on a roll. If the Giants gameplan accordingly, as reports have indicated, by placing Odell in the slot, the Giants offense could make some noise. I'm not banking on it as the Panthers defensive line has been stellar all year.
Final score: Panthers 28, Giants 17
Valentine's View (8-5)
Heart or head. When it comes to picking this game, that's the question. In your head, you want the storybook. You want the Giants to end Carolina's unbeaten season, to run the table and make the playoffs. To be the NFL version of Cinderella once again. In your heart, you know the Panthers are a better team. They are 13-0 for a reason, as the Giants are 6-7 for a variety of very different reasons. The Giants' defense should be no match for the Carolina offense. Josh Norman could be the guy who can slow down Odell Beckham.
What to do? I'm going with my head. I think the Giants will come out swinging, pulling out all the stops. I think they will play a terrific game, and that there will be moments where it looks like they might win. In the end, though, they probably aren't good enough.
Final score: Panthers 38, Giants 31
Make your own prediction