The New York Giants continue a weird start to their schedule that saw them open up with a home loss to Dallas on a Wednesday, stew over that loss for 11 days before beating Tampa Bay behind Eli Manning’s 510 passing yards on Sunday, and now come back on short rest for this Thursday night affair.
The Carolina Panthers were upset by Tampa Bay on opening week, but they then pulled an upset of their own over Drew Brees and the Saints on Sunday. New York is a small -1.5 favorite for this game with the total set at 51.
1. Why Carolina will cover the spread: Although this game his highlighted by the two quarterbacks Manning and Cam Newton, the Panthers will cover this spread if they can run the ball effectively. It is no coincidence that they lost when they were unable to run a lick vs. the Buccaneers and won when they rushed for 219 yards against the Saints. No, we are not calling for another 219 yards, but around 125 will do as that would move the chains and keep the clock running, in turn keeping Manning and the Giants’ offense on the sidelines. Another key for the Panthers is their defense not getting beat deep. Sure they allowed Brees to pass for 325 yards, but that came on 49 pass attempts and Carolina actually ranks a respectable 10th in the early going in defensive passing yards per attempt at just 6.2.
2. Why New York will cover the spread: As crazy as it sounds, for the Giants to cover this spread, Manning has to pass for at least 300 yards, and the closer to 400 the better! Before placing that call to the insane asylum, consider that running back Ahmad Bradshaw will most likely miss this game after suffering a sprained neck suffered on Sunday, the Giants rank 24th in rushing after two games at 88.0 yards per game after ranking dead last despite winning the Super Bowl last year and they have not been afraid to put games in Manning’s hands before. A key on the Giants’ defense is keeping Newton in the pocket, as he is obviously most dangerous on his improvisational runs.
3. Total Talk: While these are two offensive minded teams, this posted total of 51 seems artificially inflated, no doubt due to both teams coming off of high scoring affairs and Manning’s 500-yard performance getting so much notoriety. Now we are by no means expecting a defensive struggle, but we do think that Carolina will achieve its goal of running the ball well and shortening the game, and the Panthers’ defense can now game plan for a one dimensional passing offense, something that the Buccaneers understandably did not do last week with Bradshaw expected to give the Giants balance. Thus we favor the ‘under’ at this bloated total, while the side is way too close to call. We give a slight nod to Carolina at home.
4. Betting Trends for Giants-Panthers: We are bucking a couple of trends that have seen the ‘over’ go 4-0 in the last four head-to-head meetings as well as 5-0-1 the last six times Carolina has been a home underdog.
Carolina 24 – New York 23