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Panthers vs Giants offensive preview: Struggling New York defense presents golden opportunity

Will the Panthers take advantage of the Giants 27th ranked defense?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers (3-3) head to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Sunday to take on the New York Giants (1-5). Both teams need this game. The Giants have lost all but one game this season and have a very challenging schedule after Sunday. The Panthers, meanwhile, want to end their painful three-game losing streak.

Let’s jump into how the Panthers offense could fair against the Giants defense.

Panthers offense

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Yards per game: 353.8 (18th)
Pass yards per game: 244.3 (15th)
Rush yards per game: 109.5 (18th)
Points per game: 23.8 (16th)

The Panthers again regressed in at least two of the above categories (yards and pass yards) after last week’s loss to the Vikings. Over the last four weeks the team has steadily been regressing in nearly all four categories. It’s not a pretty picture, especially considering the quality of defenses they’ve been playing against.

And this week the Panthers will play against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Carolina will want to use Sam Darnold’s running effectiveness as they’ve been doing near the redzone. It also helps that rookie running back Chuba Hubbard has averaged 80 rushing yards per game over his last two contests.

The Giants aren’t particularly good at stopping the pass either, so this game marks a great opportunity for Darnold and his receivers to boost their confidence. Receiver Robby Anderson has vowed to be better after a particularly poor outing on Sunday when he caught just three of 11 targets.

Giants defense

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Yards per game: 401.3 (27th)
Pass yards per game: 264.2 (22nd)
Rush yards per game: 137.2 (29th)
Points per game: 29.5 (30th)
Turnovers: 8 (11th)

The Giants defense was not expected to be this bad. It’s been a bit of a nightmarish season for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

This will mark the third time in the last four weeks that the Panthers offense will go up against a bottom-10 rush defense in the NFL. The Giants allow a putrid 137 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses and a third-worst 29.5 points per game. It’s not a good scene.

The only thing the Giants defense seems consistent at is generating at least a turnover per game (eight in six games). One the plus side for Big Blue, defensive end Leonard Williams is having a fine season after a mega payday in the offseason, while second-year linebacker Tae Crowder has stepped up to become a dependable ‘backer. That’s seemingly about it.

Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Aaron Robinson and rookie edge rusher Elerson Smith returned to practice this week. Head coach Joe Judge also confirmed a report that the Giants are signing veteran former Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney to their practice squad.

Overall match-up

Darnold and the offense should be able to put up 27 to 30 points on this Giants defense. The question is how will Daniel Jones and the Giants offense respond?

The stats tell us that the Panthers should come in and win this game. They have a much better defense and their middle-of-the-pack offense should have a good day against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. But the Giants know they need to win this game to retain any self-respect, particularly before entering a three-game gauntlet against the Chiefs, Raiders and Buccaneers. The Giants are desperate right now.

I’m going out on a limb here and saying the Giants will eke out a scrappy, ugly win at home to push Carolina’s winless slide to four games.