Current line: Panthers -2.5 (Pinnacle, Bet365, 5Dimes), total is 49.5 across the board
Current betting percentage: 55% action on the Giants, 70% action on the OVER
Individual Team Trends:
Giants are 35-16 ATS in their last 51 road games.
Panthers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games.
Panthers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
Favorite is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
Thursday Night Football couldn’t have come at a worse time for the New York Giants. The Giants have been ravaged by injuries to start the season, and will be without the services of wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon for tonight’s matchup with the Panthers. New York will also be missing their starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw with a neck injury, and starting right tackle David Diehl will also be watching the game from the sidelines.
With the amount of injuries that the Giants have on the offensive side of the ball, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them struggle to put up points in this contest. While there’s no doubt that Eli Manning is an elite quarterback, he’ll have a number of young, inexperienced players as his targets down the field. Ramses Barden will be lining up across from Victor Cruz as a starting receiver, and the only option as a slot receiver is former LSU standout Rueben Randle.
Manning will undoubtedly rely heavily on the running game to help move the chains. While the injury to Ahmad Bradshaw may seem like a huge blow, the downgrade from Bradshaw to projected starter Andre Brown is minimal. Brown looked great in relief on Bradshaw last week, and will have the luxury of going up against a Carolina defense that has really struggled against the run to start the season. The main issue for the Giants this week will be that their lack of multiple aerial threats will allow the Panthers to focus on limiting the running game. New York’s offensive line isn’t particularly good at run blocking, while Carolina boasts three linebackers that are absolute tackling machines.
The loss of Diehl may not be the biggest blow to the Giants, but it will undoubtedly have an impact on the game. For the most part, Carolina’s defensive line is pretty weak, but defensive end Charles Johnson is a force as a pass rusher. Johnson should have his way with Giants’ backup right tackle James Brewer, and should be able to apply consistent pressure to Manning.
If the Giants want to walk out of Carolina with a 2-1 record, they’re going to need to get a better performance from their defense. New York will get some much needed help with the return of linebacker Keith Rivers and cornerback Prince Amukamara from their respective injuries.
The Giants have been unable to stop the run in their first two games, but the return o Rivers will really boost their run stopping. New York will also benefit from the likely absence of Panthers’ running back Jonathan Stewart who was excellent last week against New Orleans. Carolina still boasts a pair of solid backs in DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, plus arguably the biggest rushing threat at quarterback in the league in Cam Newton, so I’m not sure that the Giants will be able to completely keep the Panthers’ running game in check.
This is particularly bad news since the Giants’ secondary is still relatively weak. Even with Amukamara back from injury, New York will be dressing the worst set of nickel and dime corners in the league. The Giants’ pass rush has not been anywhere near the form that we saw at the end of last season, but they’ll have to be tonight, or we could be looking at a lopsided score line. Panthers’ right tackle Byron Bell is listed as questionable with an ankle injury, and if he can’t go, New York can really try to exploit that matchup with their premier pass rushers.
Just like last week’s Thursday Nighter, this one is really tough to call. I LOVED Carolina when they were a 1.5-point underdog earlier this week, but now that they’re 2.5-point favorites, we’ve lost all line value on them. New York was seeing almost three quarters of the action a couple of days ago, but with all of the Giants’ injuries, this game is almost at 50/50 action. I still like the Panthers to win and cover, but nowhere near as much as I did earlier this week.
Prediction: Panthers 26, Giants 20
Recommendation: The total in this game opened up at 52 and is now down to 49.5, despite the majority of the action coming in on the OVER. This means that there is a lot of sharp money bringing that total down right now, while the public feels as though all of the injuries aren’t really going to impact the Giants’ ability to score. Essentially, that’s the same thing that happened in the Packers-Bears game one week ago. As far as a pick is concerned, I won’t be betting a dollar of mine on this game. This is one of those games that I’m happy to lay off of as it should be fairly entertaining. Slight leans to Panthers -2.5 and UNDER 49.5.