I know why many would say no, and there are a lot of good reasons why they’d say no.
But if you ask me, “Can the Giants beat Carolina?” In a word: yes.
Because why not, right? A co-worker said something to me the other day and it describes this team on point in one sentence: I have as much confidence in the Giants beating the Browns as I do in them beating Carolina.
Yup, that pretty much sums it up. I don’t understand the Giants, I don’t know why they do this, and I would like to but I can’t even pretend to understand them. Throughout the Manning-Coughlin era, they’ve always done this: they’ll play down to an opponent’s level and then play up to the next. It’s why they could lose to the Redskins and Jets in the fashion they did and still find a way to stay in first place. It’s also why the 2008 Giants started 11-1 but got blown out by the Cleveland Browns on one strange Monday night. It’s also why they can beat the 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl.
I understand, they’re all different teams. But for whatever reason, the Giants and Tom Coughlin have always found a way to win games they “shouldn’t” win, and lose games they “should” win. They’re the pinnacle of NFL parody. My point? Of course they could win! Don’t put anything past them.
Anyways, back to tangible points… there are a few reasons why the Giants could pull off the upset of the year. Reason one, for what it’s worth, they’ve performed decently at home this year (3-3), and I can only think playing in the Meadowlands will help them. It’s not Seattle, it’s not Pittsburgh, but winning on the road is never, ever easy in the NFL.
Reason number two: Eli and Odell. What a combo. When Manning comes out
Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) celebrates after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The New Orleans Saints defeated the New York Giants 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
firing and is accurate—which is always a bit of an unknown each week—it’s just a matter of Odell Beckham getting open and the Giants will score. These two alone give the Giants the potential to run a lethal offense, and their chemistry’s been on full display the past six weeks. Josh Norman certainly has the ability to stop Beckham, but that’s asking a lot. It’s no knock on Norman, but I wonder if Beckham’s just too hot for any secondary to handle at this point.
My third reason the Giants could win this game: Rashad Jennings. Now, Jennings won’t win a game the way Odell Beckham can single-handedly win the game. But Jennings could help the Giants win a certain aspect of the game that could eventually lead to them securing a W, and that is controlling the clock. It’s something they did Monday night against Miami: Jennings had his best game of the year (22 carries for 81 yards), and the offense was balanced for one of the few times this season.
Dec 7, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings (23) rushes for yardage against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. Giants defeated the Titans 36-7. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Part of the reason a strong performance from Jennings would be so significant in this matchup is because the Panthers could be without Jonathan Stewart as he deals with a foot injury. Should that be the case, the Giants have an opportunity to control the clock with a good run game. And if their running back committee, which is starting to look more like a Jennings-Darkwa split by the week, pulls it off, the Giants have a real shot at winning.
And finally, reason number four: the pass rush finally comes alive. I don’t expect this to happen… but if it does, somehow, the Giants will be right in this game. At its worst this year, the Giants’ pass rush has actually been nonexistent. At its peak, it’s been wildly inconsistent. But Robert Ayers and JPP coming off the edges Monday night seemed to slow down Ryan Tannehill, and Cullen Jenkins has started to find his way to the backfield more and more since the team came out of the bye week.
It’s been pretty difficult to rattle Cam Newton this year, and I do not expect this Giants defense to do it. However, if they could force some—just some—pressure on Cam, this could be a totally different ballgame, and one the Giants would be in for four quarters.