Panthers Vs Giants: Key Matchups

Although the Panthers gave the Giants an "old fashioned butt-whooping" last year, you can expect this game to be much closer.  The Giants running attack should be more potent than it was last year, the defensive stars injured in last year's game are back, and the Giants new D-Coordinator has had a year to prepare for this game.  Make no mistake Panther fans, this game will be a close one, the Giants are a very talented team and have a lot of anger from this matchup last year.  If the Panthers are to win this one, they must exploit and win 5 key match-ups.

1. Geoff Schwartz and Mackenzy Bernadeau vs. Giants D-Line:  

Although the Cats ran all over the Giants last year, they'll be replacing two starters on the offensive line for this game: Schwartz at RT and Bernadeau at RG. Both actually saw time last year and did quite well, but must prove now that they are quality O-line starting material.  They must prove that they can handle the Giant D-Line, which is both deep and talented.  Last year was really an anomaly for their D-Line, under performing and collecting only 32 sacks.  This year though, they have retooled with a new D-Coordinator and added new players in Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph.  With Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, Osi Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and these new guys, this line is going to be a challenge for our offensive line and if our running and passing game are going to be effective, it all starts up front with these guys...

2.  TE's Jeff King, Dante Rosario, and Gary Barnidge Vs. Giants LB Corps:

If there is one weakness on this Giant defense, it has to be the Giant LB corps.  Other than Michael Boley and seasoned vet Keith Bullock (who might not even play), there is really no one special here.  Clint Sintim and Jonathan Goff are by no means household names.  Respectfully, neither are our tight ends.  However, if the Panthers are to be succesful on offense, the TEs must bully these linebackers around.  In the run game, King must dominate the LB since the O-line will likely have its hands full.  And in the passing game, Rosario and Barnidge must make themselves targets for Matt Moore, because outside of Smitty, there may not be much else for Moore to throw to.  Therefore, the Panthers must exploit this match-up and have dominant play from the TEs....more after the jump...

3.  CB Captain Munnerlyn Vs. Giants WRs:

With Steve Smith (the other, less talented one from USC of course...), Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Dominik Hixon, and Victor Cruz, the Giants have a very talented corps of receivers to throw to.  This is evident as Eli threw for 4,000 yards last year (albeit not many yards against the Panthers last year...).  Chris Gamble and Richard Marshall are more than capable of defending against the Giants top two receivers (whoever that may be), however Munnerlyn will see the field often as the Giants will likely utilize multiple WR sets, thus necessitating nickle and dime packages.  Munnerlyn will face a very good challenge against these receivers, and if the Panthers are to stifle the Giants air attack, then a lot of the weight will have to be carried by Munnerlyn.

4.  Panther D-Line vs Giant O-Line:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know the story.  Pep left, and critics cried that this D would be in shambles without him, yada, yada, yada...And we all know how the preseason went, as the D-line had 18 sacks in 4 games.  Yes, the Panther D-line looked great in the preseason, but before putting the Panther's D-line on a pedestal, we've got to see how they perform in the regular season.  This young and promising group, consisting of Brown, Brayton, Johnson, and Hardy will have to step up to stop this rushing attack and get after Eli to once and for-all start proving these critics wrong.  Additionally, all of the nobody's in the middle of the line (Leonard, Hayden, Neblett, Landri, and Johnson) must prove that they are somebody and can hold the middle.

5.  QB Matt Moore vs. Giant Defense:

Although Matt Moore played great at the conclusion of last season, he didn't look so hot in the preseason, and now he must prove this year he is worthy of the starting job.  With a successful running attack, Moore might not have to be spectacular.  However, if the running game has a mediocre performance, then the onus will really be on him to win this game through the air.  Add in that the only proven target is Steve Smith on the field, and he might have to transform into Payton Manning for the Panthers to win.  Either way, Moore has to be solid against this reformed Giant Defense...

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