Gridiron Gab Week One Preview: Panthers at Giants

The New York Football Giants’ are set to officially open up the new stadium to the same team that closed the doors to the old stadium in foul fashion. The Giants’ suffered a 41-9 loss against the Panthers last season, ending the season on a sour note. The Panthers ended the season as one of the more up and coming teams, as new starting QB Matt Moore finished the season 4-1 as a starter. The Giants’ are looking to rebound on a disappointing season, and what better way than to start the season off with a win?

Keys to a Giants’ Victory

Put Pressure on Moore: While the new Panthers starting QB finished the season great, things have changed. For starters, the Panthers drafted Notre Dame sensation Jimmy Clausen in the second round. Moore has a giant target on his back. If he struggles, he could be benched in favor of the “franchise QB.” Aside from the fact that Clausen will be breathing down his neck, this will be his first opening day start. Any starter will tell you they get nervous for opening day. If the Giants’ can put pressure on Moore, and get his rhythm disrupted early, it could be a long day for the Panthers passing game.

Stop “Thunder and Lighting”: The Panthers have their own “Thunder” and “Lighting”combination. Williams and Stewart are arguably one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the N.F.L. The Giants’ got killed by both of them week 16 last year, but it’s a different unit, different coach and that Giants team simply quit last year, to be honest. The Giants’ have more success stopping the pound it type of backs, such as Marion Barber. However, what has troubled them is the quick backs. We don’t yet know how the LB’s will do with quick backs. With both Bulluck and Phillips starting Sunday, they could have trouble with DeAngelo Williams on Sunday.

The Fab Five Getting Back to the Basics: For the first time in a long, long time, the fab five (the Giants’ offense line) practiced together. Snee, Seubert and O’Hara missed time with more serious injuries for an offensive lineman, while McKenzie missed time with migraines. The only healthy one of the bunch is David Diehl. However, if the fab five can get back to the basics and block, newly named starter Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs can get some solid runs up the field.

‘Dodge’ing a Bullet: Matt Dodge was able to fight the wavier wire, and keep his job. He got better each week, but the last two games were in warmer environments with less wind. Could the wind be his issue? He has a huge leg. We know that for sure, as evident by the 74-yard punt he had, once. But his hang-time and slow delivery is his issue. He needs to have a solid opener to get his trust in Coughlin to go up. But he also needs a good game to help the Giants’ defense, as well.

Players to Watch

Kenny Phillips and Keith Bulluck: Both players were severely limited this pre-season, Phillips more so than Bulluck. However, both are penciled in as starters for Sunday’s game. Phillips got to practice without any limitations yesterday, something all Giants’ fans have been waiting for. If he’s healthy, you’ll see him making plays in center field, just like the old days. Bulluck will be on the outside, but don’t be shocked if you see him playing inside too. Bulluck will have to stop DeAngelo Williams from turning the corner. If Bulluck’s knee is “fully” healthy and he’s back to old form, the Giants’ have a pro-bowler to sure up the outside.

Brandon Jacobs: Why would I list Jacobs here and not Bradshaw, who’s now the starter? Jacobs will likely get anywhere from 10-15 carries Sunday. If this can light an even bigger fire under Jacobs, which it could – – and should — Jacobs could have a HUGE day. Bradshaw will get his 20 carries, but Jacobs is the guy I’m keeping my eye on.

Jon Goff: Goff ended the pre-season on a terrific note, wrapping up his starting spot this weekend. Goff had looked awful in space at times this pre-season, but seems more confident in Fewell’s new system, too. It will be interesting to see how Goff does Sunday, as I assume he’ll be calling the plays as well. He has tremendous instincts, it’s just a matter of reading and reacting. We shall see.

Chris Canty: Canty missed a good portion of last year with nagging injuries, and the inability to adjust from the 3-4 to the 4-3 in his first year with Big Blue. Canty got much bigger and stronger, something that should help him a lot when he’s lined up over the guards this season. He missed time with a groin injury and is on the first “official” injury report, something he needs to stay off of. Canty’s groin is acting up, which could play a factor in the amount of time he plays on Sunday, but if he can fight through it he will help Tuck, Kiwanuka and Umenyoria get to the QB by taking some double-teams.

Player to pick on:

Geoff Schwartz: With RT Jeff Otah seemingly out for Sunday’s game, Schwartz will be starting in his place. This will be his second season, but he did start three games last year. However, Tuck should have a field day with Schwartz trying to stop him. If they try and double-team him, then Cofield or Canty will face more one on one matchups. This should haunt the Panthers. This could honestly end up being the X-factor for the Giants in Sunday’s game. Otah is a solid offensive linemen who could give Tuck a run for his money. Look for Tuck to attack Schwartz a lot Sunday.

Interesting Stat:

Did you know the Giants were 8-0 last season when Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 60 yards or more in a game? Look for the Giants’ to attack the holes with the speedy little Bradshaw hiding behind the offensive linemen.

Captains:

Quarterback Eli Manning, defensive end Justin Tuck and linebacker Chase Blackburn will be captains for the season. ?Manning is the offensive representative for the fourth consecutive season. Tuck and Blackburn, meanwhile, are in the position of captain for the first time. Two other captains will be elected on game day, too.

Prediction:

As I’ve bragged about, I’m 3-0 so far in predicting the Giants’ record. I’d take me to Vegas, if I were you. But hey, just saying! I think the Giants’ will get back to Giants football, pound it and put pressure on the QB.

Final Score: Giants 24 Panthers 20


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