It was a call that would have made new Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll a hero or a villain around the tri-state area in his first game as head coach. Daboll gambled on a two-point conversion and won, and set Giants fans’ world ablaze with a boost of confidence.
Quarterback Daniel Jones’ inside shovel pass to Saquon Barkley was the difference in their 21-20 victory in Tennessee last Sunday in a game in which Jones was sacked three times in the first half and threw a bad interception late in the game that could have cost them the victory. But Barkley was the difference-maker, as he showed flashbacks from his dynamite rookie season. He hit the holes with bursts of quickness and confidence, dancing his way to 164 yards and a touchdown. This Giants team clawed its way back from a 13-point deficit.
New York returns home Sunday, Sept. 18, to host Carolina, which dropped a 26-24 heartbreaking home opener to Cleveland last week. Baker Mayfield faced his ex-team for the first time and had an average showing. He was sacked four times and hurried six times. Carolina also had trouble getting its running game going behind Christian McCaffrey, who was held to 33 yards. The Panthers’ defense allowed 217 yards on the ground against the Browns.
The last time the Giants started the season 2-0 was in 2016.
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NY Giants vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Odds
Despite being the home team, the Giants are favored by less than a field goal. Here are the latest sports betting odds.
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Analyzing All Three Phases
Barkley was the game changer for the unit with his electrifying day. He looked fresh and strong from the start, and he also caught a team-high six passes for 30 yards. Jones had an efficient day (17-for-21, 188 yards) aside from his bad interception. He uncorked a 65-yard score to Sterling Shepherd, who appears to have recovered from his Achilles injury. But Jones will need to open up the offense to include Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. The offensive line looked more stable and cohesive in the second half.
Mayfield needs to have a big passing game here. The Giants had trouble covering downfield, and this could benefit Mayfield. They will need to open McCaffrey’s running game, which is another big key. Robbie Anderson is the Panthers’ deep threat as he had 102 yards receiving. One glaring stat was their 4-for-11 third down conversion rate.
The Giants limited the Titans and arguably the game’s best runner Derrick Henry to 82 yards, and he never found his rhythm. They will have to limit the long pass downfield. The Giants will have to heighten their pass rush after having just one sack, but they did have five quarterback hits. They will need another big effort to curb McCaffrey.
The Panthers will need a bullseye on Barkley after they allowed Nick Chubb to run for 141 yards and Kareem Hunt for 46 last week. Safety Tyler Woods had 10 tackles last week. The Panthers had just one sack, and that stat will have to improve. They also allowed Cleveland to have an 8-for-18 performance on third downs. Overall, the unit will need an upgrade this week.
The Giants have Graham Gano, one of the game’s most consistent kickers in recent years. Jamie Gillan had a good day punting, hitting more than 50 yards on each of his six kicks. Special teams were solid, and Gano can be a difference maker. He kicks well at home.
Like the Giants, the Panthers also had a good day on special teams last week. Andre Roberts is still one of the game’s top return specialists. Ex-Jet Eddy Pineiro had a 34-yard field goal in his debut, and punter Johnny Hekker had his booms over 50 yards.
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For the Giants, cornerback Aaron Robinson (appendix) is out, and wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) and cornerback Nick McCloud (hamstring) are doubtful. Edge rusher Azeez Olujari (calf) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee) have been limited.
Carolina defensive end Marquis Hayes (hip) is doubtful. Tackle Taylor Morton (knee) and linebacker Brandon Smith (thigh) were limited this week.
There is plenty of electricity around the Giants’ camp. Having their home opener after a huge win can be a perfect recipe. Barkley will need another big day, and Jones needs some big plays. The Giants can ride the wave here, and their defense can open up the game. Take the favorite Giants to cover the 2.5-point spread — Giants 24-14.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey