Jim Mancari: If there was ever a must-win in Week 3 of an NFL season, it is this weekend for the Giants against the Carolina Panthers. Very few teams can recover from an 0-2 start, but it's the way the Giants have reached 0-2 that is even more troubling than the record. Now, every aspect of the Giants' play is not going to automatically improve all in the same week just because the Giants need a victory. Big Blue instead needs to start the process of improving in a few major areas, especially the running game, getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks and eliminating turnovers.
Cam Newton has gotten off to a slow start for Carolina, but the Panthers' defense is no slouch. Many experts are expecting the Giants to head down to Carolina and bury the Panthers, but the team is not yet ready for that. However, it is ready to get on the board in the win column, no matter how that is achieved. I'm expecting a much closer game that features plenty of offense. The Giants need to turn field goals into touchdowns, which could be the first step on the road to recovery.....Giants 31, Panthers 24
I don't buy into this "must-win" mentality. There are only 16 games on the schedule and no team can afford to prioritize games this early in the season. The Giants need to win ten of the next 14 games to assure themselves a spot in the postseason, but nine wins might get it done in the NFC East this season.
A win this week in Charlotte would be a good start to towards that. The Giants have the league's highest-rated passing attack and will be facing a Panthers' defense that is missing several starters, especially in the secondary. Not a good mix if you are the Panthers.
The Giants can throw the ball with anyone and they will prove that again this week. They will try their running game, but won't force what isn't there. The Panthers will be without starting NT Dwan Edwards, so there could be some opportunities in the run game. That won't stop budding superstar Luke Kuechly, their MLB who led the NFL in tackles last year, from plugging the holes. But against the pass, the Panthers remain vulnerable.
On defense, look for the Giants to contain QB Cam Newton and force him into bad throws. He only has 3 TD passes thus far this season and only one INT, but he can be pressured. Newton was sacked six times in the loss at Buffalo last week. Last year, the Giants picked off Newton three times and held him to just six yards on the ground....Giants 24, Panthers 17