NY Giants look to salvage sinking season against Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Odell Beckham Jr. enters the Week 5 matchup in Charlotte still in search of his first touchdown catch of 2018.
Odell Beckham Jr. enters the Week 5 matchup in Charlotte still in search of his first touchdown catch of 2018. Photo Credit: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

The New York Giants’ season is in critical condition. If they can’t leave Charlotte on Sunday with a victory over the 2-1 Carolina Panthers, this campaign will be on life support.

There’s a lot working against Big Blue, which enters Week 5 at 1-3 and will look to avoid a second consecutive lost season. Read on for three of the biggest obstacles in their path back to contention this weekend.

Giant inconsistencies

Eli Manning has played well. Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard are making grabs. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley hit the ground running. So why do the Giants rank fourth from the bottom in scoring average?

It’s a puzzle head coach Pat Shurmur undoubtedly is racking his brain over right this minute. The offensive line — or at least the right half — bears a great deal of blame for limiting how effective this team can be at marching down the field.

Oddly enough, the Giants are statistically one of the league’s most efficient teams in third down situations and are winning the time of possession battle. If the O-line can get its act together, things could turn around quickly, even against a tough team like Carolina.

"Carolina Strong"

The rallying cry in North and South Carolina, which was hit hard by Hurricane Florence last month, applies just as easily to the Panthers’ home-field edge. Dating back to last season, they’ve won seven in a row at Bank of America Stadium. 

Although the Giants’ lone win came as visitors against the Houston Texans on Sept. 23, the team is 6-13 away from MetLife Stadium dating back to the start of the 2016 season — including a wild-card round postseason loss against the Green Bay Packers.

The trends spell trouble for the G-Men.

Confident Cam

The Giants already have faced three of the more dangerous mobile quarterbacks in the league, but none compares to the gold standard: Cam Newton. The all-time leader in rushing touchdowns by a passer, Newton has found the end zone three times in three games, and he’s averaging a career-high 9.3 carries per game.

More surprising, and thus troubling for the Giants, has been Newton’s success through the air. He’s completing 67.4 percent of his passes — well above his career 58.7 rate — and perhaps returning to the form that saw him win the 2015 NFL MVP.

Olivier Vernon, the Giants’ top edge rusher, looks likely to make his season debut Sunday, and they’ll need him to pressure Newton without allowing the dual threat to turn a potential sack into a highlight-reel run.

Scott’s prediction

Panthers 24, Giants 17