It’s been a solid start to Week 15. A win on the Rams on Thursday night, and a hard luck push yesterday with the Jets. Kudos to the Cowboys for battling, but the Jets came up big when it mattered most, and it looks like the post-season could await Gang Green in 2016. For the Sunday slate, there’s a bunch of very intriguing games, and perhaps the match-up at the top of that list is the Panthers/Giants contest. Carolina of course is a perfect 13-0 and they’ll take their act to the Meadowlands to do battle with the New York Giants. The G-Men are fighting for their playoff lives right now, hoping to capture the NFC East divisional crown and fend off both the Redskins and the Eagles. The Giants scored a huge win last week on the road in Miami, but their task will be quite tall in Week 15 against Cam Newton and the Panthers. This has all the makings of an instant classic, given everything that’s on the line. So read on below for full game analysis and a prediction for Giants/Panthers.
Panthers vs. Giants Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers -4.5 (-115)
@ New York Giants +4.5 (-105)
Over 48.5 (-110)
Under 48.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Panthers vs. Giants Pick:
Undoubtedly, the matchup to watch in this contest will be Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. going up against Carolina’s top corner in Josh Norman. The two are the cream of the crop with regard to their positions in the NFL right now, and this should make an outstanding battle throughout the day. Norman has done very well against other elite receivers in football, but Beckham is a whole different animal and is currently in elite form. Nobody can cover Beckham at this moment, and in today’s higher-scoring NFL, it seems as if great offense can trump great defense more often than not. Let’s also not forget about the fact that Eli Manning is playing some great football right now. He was simply dominant on Monday night against the Dolphins, willing his team to victory with countless clutch plays in the second half. New York seems to have rectified their issues along the offensive line, and aside from Josh Norman, the Panthers can be beat in their secondary. Even if Beckham is limited, Manning is usually excellent at distributing to all of his weapons and taking full advantage of mismatches. In yet another, ‘must-win’ situation, expect Manning to have his offense rolling on Sunday afternoon.
On the other side of the football, it’s remarkable just how good Carolina’s offense has been in 2015. It was not supposed to be anywhere near this level, especially without Kelvin Benjamin. However some key injuries of late may slow them down in Week 15. Even though the Giants can’t defend all that well, Jonathan Stewart’s status remains uncertain and Greg Olsen will reportedly play through an injury. Those are the two key cogs for Cam Newton and this Panthers’ offense, and with them being limited, it’s a huge break for the Giants’ stop unit. You also have to wonder about Carolina’s focus. This is clearly a huge game for New York at home, while the Panthers seem to have everything they want locked-up aside from the formalities of clinching homefield. Can they bring that same level of intensity again? We’ll find out soon enough.
Ultimately I expect this game to be highly scoring and make for an offensive shootout. The Panthers and Giants should both be able to move the chains at will. However, with the Panthers coming off an important victory and routing their hated rivals from Atlanta, I doubt they’re fully focused for the intensity the Giants are going to bring come Sunday afternoon. New York has only had one defeat by more than six points and for a 6-7 team that’s really good. They thrive in this underdog role, and I’m backing them to get the cover, and maybe even the outright victory.
PICK = Giants +4.5 (-105)