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4 New York Giants keys to victory in Week 2 matchup versus Carolina Panthers

Jason Leach

The New York Giants will look to start the season 2-0 as they host the 0-1 Carolina Panthers in their home opener on Sunday. This will be the 12th time these two franchises have faced one another, and the Panthers lead the series 6-5.

A field goal attempt decided both teams’ fate last week. A 58-yard field by Cleveland Browns kicker Cade York with eight seconds remaining gave the Panthers a crushing 26-24 defeat, whereas the Giants were victorious thanks to Titans kicker Randy Bullock missing a 47-yard attempt as time expired.

Related: NFL scores – Week 2 led by a featured matchup between Cardinals and Raiders

The win over the Titans was the boost the franchise needed to kick off the Brian Daboll era.  Now the first-year head coach will attempt to get Big Blue off to a 2-0 start for the first time since the 2016 season. Here’s what the Giants will need to do on Sunday to secure the win.

A heavy dose of Saquon Barkley

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Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As a runner and receiver last week, Barkley touched the ball 24 times for 194 all-purpose yards, ran for a touchdown, and scored the game-winning two-point conversion which is why he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. That recipe worked last week, and there’s no reason for the Giants to deviate from the same game plan this week, as the 25-year-old running back looks as explosive as ever.

Last week the Browns running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt carried the ball 33 times for 187 yards and a touchdown against Carolina. Until the Panthers show that they can stop the run, New York needs to feed their star running back the ball.

Good things happen when number 26 gets his hands on the rock, so another 20-plus touch day for Barkley will pave the way towards another victory.

Don’t get beat deep

Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield loves taking chances downfield. With cornerback Aaron Robinson out due to an appendectomy, look for Mayfield to try to connect with DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson on deep passes.

It will be imperative for Adoree Jackson and the rest of the secondary to make sure they don’t give up a big play that can change the momentum of the game. If they force the Panthers to go the length of the field, it increases their chances of forcing Mayfield into making a mistake.

All eyes are on Christian McCaffrey

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Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Just as the Giants have a dynamic star running back, Carolina has one of their own in Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is a dual-threat back that can scamper for a big play at any moment.

Often the Panthers offense goes as McCaffrey goes. So everyone on the defense needs to be mindful of where McCaffrey is lined up at all times. If they can keep the 26-year-old running back in check, Carolina will have difficulty scoring.

Win the turnover battle

Last week the Giants lost the turnover battle but were still able to come away with a win. You don’t want to keep tempting this trend as often the team that loses the turnover battle loses the game.

After throwing a costly interception in the end zone against the Titans and being chewed out by his head coach, Daniel Jones was able to rebound and help engineer the game-winning drive. Now it’s time for him and the rest of the offense to have a clean game and not turn the ball over.

As we mentioned previously Mayfield likes to take chances which is why he’s turnover prone. He’ll give the Giants an opportunity to come away with their first interception this season, and they need to capitalize on it. This game could easily be decided by which quarterback has the cleaner game.

Prediction

The Giants might once again be without their two best pass rushers in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojualri, but the defense showed last week they’re more than capable of holding their own, and Barkley is playing like he’s the best back in the league. These two elements will be enough for New York to come away with another narrow victory. Giants 23, Panthers 20.