Carolina (13-0) at NY Giants (6-7)
When: Sunday, December 20th 2015
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Time: 1:00 ET | TV: FOX
The Carolina Panthers will look to get one step closer to a perfect season when they visit the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers have already won the NFC South and a first-round bye in the Playoffs, but a win tonight coupled by an Arizona loss, would give Carolina home-field advantage throughout. If they’re to win, it will have to be without starting running back Jonathan Stewart, who will be out of Sunday’s game with an injured foot he suffered in last week’s 38-0 win over Atlanta. Stewart is fourth in the NFL with 989 rushing yards this year to go along with his six touchdowns. He’s been able to take pressure off of Cam Newton this season, who is having his best NFL season. Newton is the front-runner for the NFL MVP with his arm and legs. He has a career-high 28 touchdown passes this season and only 10 interceptions, despite not having any big-play receivers he can rely on. Newton has five career games with at least three passing touchdowns and one rushing score, one shy of the NFL record shared by Steve Young and Jack Kemp. The Carolina defense held the Falcons to just 230 yards last week and forced four turnovers. The Panthers lead the NFL in interceptions (21) and takeaways (33) and have forced multiple turnovers in nine games this season. They are led by cornerback Josh Norman, who has held DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, TY Hilton, Dez Bryant, and Julio Jones to a combined 9 catches for 89 yards.
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The Giants will not only try and break up Carolina’s perfect record, but at the same time keep pace with Washington and Philadelphia in the up-for-grabs NFC East. New York will need Eli Manning to be just as good as he was last week in the win over Miami on Monday night. He was 27-of-31 for 337 yards and four touchdowns. The win snapped a three-game losing streak and kept the Giants in a tie for first. WR Odell Beckham Jr. has topped 100 yards receiving in six straight games, totaling 43 receptions for 796 yards and eight touchdowns over that span. He’ll have his hands full going up against Josh Norman, who ranks among the best in the league and covering receivers. The Giants may have to throw the ball a lot more against a tough Carolina run defense. The Giants run game has done nothing all season and ranks 29th in the league with 88.4 yards a game. Running back Rashad Jennings had his best game of the year on Monday gaining 81 yards on 22 carries. The Giants pass defense, which ranks dead-last in the league, had one of their better games last week holding Miami to 235 yards passing.
The pressure is mounting on Carolina to go perfect, but the Giants have ruined perfect seasons before and I feel they are in the right spot to do it again. I expect Eli to step up and deliver when needed and for New York to keep this one very close.
Pick: Giants +4