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NFL Week 7: What to watch for as struggling Giants host slumping Panthers

Daniel Jones Giants
Daniel Jones and the Giants host the Panthers on Sunday.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This already has the fell of a team playing out the length of its schedule as the 1-5 New York Giants’ next marker on its nosedive brings them back to MetLife Stadium to meet the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, FOX). 

Coming off a pair of blowouts, the hobbled Giants are underdogs at home to a Panthers team that has lost three straight after a hot 3-0 start. It’s easy to see why. This is a team that shows little signs of life while battling an onslaught of injuries. Basically, something has to give here.

Here are a couple of things to watch for this weekend:

Offensive chaos

Quarterback Daniel Jones looks as though he is in for another long Sunday as the Giants continue dealing with a multitude of injury issues on the offensive side of the ball. 

On Tuesday, the team placed budding left tackle Andrew Thomas on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury during Sunday’s loss to the Rams. A combination of Nate Solder and Matt Peart — who allowed 15 pressures and three sacks in the previous two games — will feature on a line that already is without Nick Gates and Shane Lemieux, as well. 

That’s not a good formula against a Panthers defense that ranks sixth in the NFL with 16 sacks.

“We’ll get a little bit extra work this week on some different schemes that are going to come up,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said. “This is a different type of front we’re going to play — a penetrating defensive line.”

With Jones’ protection very much in question, expect more of the same vanilla offensive approach from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Explosive rookie receiver Kadarius Toney is doubtful to play Sunday while he deals with an ankle injury where he’ll join fellow receivers Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton and running back Saquon Barkley on the shelf.

 

Prepare for ground assault

A struggling Giants defense was lent a preview of what to expect from the Panthers’ offense on Sunday after Carolina head coach Matt Rhule was asked about his struggling offense.

“We’re not going to line up and throw it 40 times a game and think that’s going to win for us,” Rhule said (h/t ESPN). “It hasn’t [worked]… So we’re going to redefine who we are, and we’re going to run the football and we’re going to protect our quarterback and we’re not going to turn the ball over anymore.

“We just have not been committed enough to running it. And that’s going to change. I can tell you right now.”

With star running back Christian McCaffrey out, the Panthers’ running game hasn’t been as much of a stress in the offensive gameplan, which has played a part in the team’s struggles amidst a three-game losing streak. 

However, they’re facing a Giants defense that ranks fourth-worst in all of football against the run, allowing an average of 140.8 rushing yards per game this season. 

Expect to see a lot of Panthers rookie running back Chuba Hubbard to take some of the pressure off quarterback Sam Darnold, who has completed just 54.7% of his passes with four touchdowns and six interceptions over his last three games.

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