The New York Giants have one win in four games and rank 29th in the league in points scored, with 73, and now they head on the road to take on the 2-1 Carolina Panthers, who are coming off of their bye week. There’s no wonder why oddsmakers have the Giants as significant underdogs for Week 5.
The Panthers opened as seven-point favorites. As of Tuesday, Bovada.lv remains at Giants minus-seven, while 5dimes.eu has the Giants at -7.5.
Carolina has a 2-1 record coming out of the bye, with 71 total points scored despite playing one fewer game than the Giants. Their only loss is in their NFC South division, against the high-scoring Atlanta Falcons, while their wins are fairly high-quality, first besting the Dallas Cowboys in their home opener and then adding another home-field win over the now 3-1 Cincinnati Bengals. Meanwhile, the Giants have already suffered a loss to the Cowboys and in Week 4 managed just 18 points at home against the generally generous New Orleans Saints.
The additional trouble comes from the Panthers offense. Carolina is tops in the league in rushing yardage, while the Giants rank 29th in rushing yardage allowed. The disparity is set in further relief when realizing that the Giants are finding themselves in serious points deficits early in games. Should that happen again on Sunday, there’s no doubting that Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey will take to the ground often to both maintain and extend the lead.
The matchup doesn’t bode well for the Giants either on offense, based on what we’ve seen over the previous four weeks. While Eli Manning has a strong, 74.2 completion percentage, it has only resulted in four touchdown passes thrown; he’s also taken 15 sacks. There’s no lack of receiving talent for him, with Odell Beckham, Jr., Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley his top targets.
But Beckham has only caught 68.9 percent of the passes thrown his way this year (something that was an issue a season ago prior to his ankle injury and again in 2016). While Beckham doesn’t have Josh Norman to deal with, the addition of safety Eric Reid will certainly help out Carolina’s secondary and their ability to defend the Giants wideout. And Barkley isn’t generating much as a running back thanks to a low volume of carries, itself a result of the Giants constantly having to play catchup via the pass.
The Giants will need to feed Barkley early in order to gain traction against the Panthers. However, if New York’s defense puts the team behind quickly we’ve already seen that Pat Shurmur is more than willing to pull back on the rushing attempts. While he’s admitted that might not be the best approach, it’s also hard to imagine a 180 in scheme and philosophy in such short order.
The Giants have thus frequently become one-dimensional, and the way the Panthers match up to them on Sunday points to this again being the case. There’s no wonder why the Panthers are so heavily favored to enter the week; the 2018 Giants, as we know them, don’t deserve the odds on their side.