The Top 4 Things YOU Should Know About... Panthers-Giants

The injury bug looms large. Find out how that will effect this game and many other stats that we're looking at tonight.

For seven quarters of this Giants' season, I would have bet good money that Seth Meyers had taken Eli Manning hostage after his SNL hosting gig. That had to be Cooper Manning out there, right? Before the fourth quarter of the Giants-Bucs game Sunday, Eli had a total of one big headache, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and ten lords-a-leaping (to leave MetLife Stadium). But then, a switch flipped. You've seen the ending by now. Eli did what Eli does, and the Giants are somehow 1-1. Whether he can keep up that performance is just one thing we're looking at for week 3.

I Want My Running Back Back

If you're a Giants' fan, be afraid that Ahmad Bradshaw is out for this game. Be very afraid. Bradshaw missed four games due to injury last season, coming in the toughest past of the Giants' schedule. SuperManning led a comeback against the Fighting Tom Bradys to win 24-20, but then after that: disaster. The Giants lost each of the next three games against the 49ers, Eagles and Saints, while Bradshaw's replacement Brandon Jacobs could only stumble forward for 122 combined rushing yards (2.8 ypc). Even though Eli threw for 300 yards in two of those three affairs, the lack of a balanced attack led to mistake after mistake. In the first half of those three games, Eli threw a total of four interceptions, zero touchdowns, and 12 combined points. Unless Andre Brown can bust out in a big way, the Giants may be stuck with the same type of ineffective one-dimensional offense once again.

A New Type of QB

50 yards rushing seems to be the magic number for Cam Newton. In 18 total games played, Newton has rushed for 50 yards in nine of them. His record when rushing for at least 50 yards: 6-3, including a five-game winning streak. His record when rushing for less than 50 yards: 1-8. Strangely enough, his effectiveness when running the ball has no effect on the ultimate product, so long as he gets the yards. Last weekend was actually one of Newton's least effective games running the ball, at only +1.08 NEP gained throughout the game. He was only successful in increasing his team's chance to score (raising that expected points) value on five of his 13 rushes, but as long as the Saints had to respect the run, the Panthers' offense could function. And this week, numberFire projects Newton to be right on the border with 50.13 yards rushing.

Under the Bridge

With the offensive explosion in the NFL this season, taking the over has been the answer more often than not. Vegas can't put the line high enough; ten of the sixteen games last weekend, the over was the correct bet. But that trend crashes into a brick wall when you talk about the teams with the highest over/under lines. That trend is reflected in the over/under for this game, currently set at 51.0 points (the third-highest of the entire NFL season). Last weekend, three different over/under lines were placed at 50 points or above: Saints/Panthers, Packers/Bears, and Falcons/Broncos. Two of those three games, the under was the correct pick. Cardinals/Patriots was the next highest line; that game finished way under. Right after that the Eagles/Ravens game finished only half a point over its 46.5 point line. The trend was the same in week 1 as well: the over won 60% of the time, but on the 5 highest Totals lines, the over went 2-2-1 (the Patriots/Titans game was a push at 47 points). The statement is clear: the over may be winning most of the time, but the trend doesn't hold up when the over/under line starts to creep above 45 points.

Throw, Throw, and Throw Some More

There are a number of players on the Fantasy Start/Sit Line in this game, but in most leagues, Cam Newton and Eli Manning are not among them. As it stands, Newton is being started in 89% of ESPN leagues, while Manning is started in 87% of ESPN league. But while Newton is the #1 Ranked QB on the numberFire projections this week, you'll have to scroll down a bit further to find Eli. Try #11. What gives? Well for one, losing Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon for the game are indeed big blows; Ramses Barden and Reuben Randle are only projected to hit 66 yards combined this week. I already touched on Bennett in the start/sit article, with his catching ability ranking far below the top-flight tight ends. And the running backs should become a factor, but Brown and Wilson only have two career catches combined. So that leaves... Victor Cruz? The Carolina secondary isn't great, but if they double-cover Victor Cruz every play (as I absolutely would), there won't be too many other options for Eli.