By Paul Dottino
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If there ever was a week when a team would be better off against a division opponent, this would be the one.
The Giants are in Carolina tonight to take on an unfamiliar Panthers team that runs a diversified offense, led by multi-talented QB Cam Newton. And the Giants are playing their second game in five days, having beaten Tampa Bay on Sunday.
And Tom Coughlin goes into the game without injured WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Domenik Hixon, RB Ahmad Bradshaw and RT David Diehl.
Here are three key matchups to watch:
1. Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Newton has three running backs at his disposal as well as the option play and a no-huddle attack. How does Fewell scheme against this strong-armed passer who ran for a career-high 71 yards vs. the Saints last week? Perhaps LB Jacquian Williams will be used as a spy.
2. Giants RB Andre Brown vs. Panthers LB Jon Beason. Brown’s ability to create something of a power running game vs. the Bucs opened up the passing game for Eli Manning to have a 500-yard day. Brown needs to do it again in order to give WRs Victor Cruz and Ramses Barden room to operate.
3. Panthers WR Brandon LaFell vs. Giants CB Jayron Hosley. It is assumed Hosley will make the second start of his pro career and be giving up four inches to the 6-2 LaFell, an emerging threat. Hosley did well vs. the Bucs but rookie mistakes are inevitable, and Newton has the mobility to extend plays to take advantage of them.
Prediction: NYG 27-24
Prediction record vs spread: 1-1
What’s your prediction for Giants-Panthers? Be heard in the comments below!