The Minnesota Vikings and defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints kicked off the new NFL season Thursday with "Who Dat" nation coming out on top, 14-9. With that said, the real NFL season starts Sunday with a platoon of games. Life feels right again.
The New York Giants will open up the new Giants Stadium when they take on the Carolina Panthers. Carolina tore apart New York last year when the G-Men were depleted by injures, 41-9. The Giants will look to repay the favor with a win in their new digs.
Here are the keys to the game for New York to come out victorious.
1. Contain DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart
There is no doubt that Carolina loves to run the ball. The Panthers ranked third last year in the NFL in terms of total rushing yards with 2,498 yards on the ground. The dynamic duo of Williams and Stewart accounted for 2,250 yards rushing and 18 total touchdowns. Williams is the speedster and Stewart the power runner.With new quarterback Matt Moore under center, don't be surprised to see head coach John Fox run the ball upwards of 35 times. The New York front seven better be prepared.
2. Pressure Matt Moore When He Drops Back
Matt Moore is the new sheriff in town after Jake Delhomme was released. He did fairly well in the games he did see time, including 171 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Giants last year. He isn't going to surprise anyone with a stellar arm strength or accuracy but he does get rid of the ball quick. The defensive line will have to provide quick pressure in order to rattle Moore. If he does have time he will find short routes with ease.
3. Utilize Ahmad Bradshaw Already!
Over the past year every Giants fan has seen what the front office and Tom Coughlin should have noticed. Ahmad Bradshaw outplaying Brandon Jacobs. Sure Jacobs is a major presence and can bring intensity second to none. But Bradshaw runs better. Plain and simple. Give Jacobs his carries on third and short or when the defense is worn down in the fourth quarter. But for the first three quarters let the former Marshall back do his thing.
4. Play Some Defense
The biggest disappointment for New York last year was the lack of any defense for the second half of the year. The finger can be pointed at former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, injuries to the starting eleven or any other number of reasons. This is the NFL. Every team will go through injuries at some point. You just have to push through. It will be interesting to see how newcomers Antrel Rolle and Keith Bullock perform in their first meaningful game in Giants blue. Also, Kenny Phillips will be starting at safety opposite Rolle. If the defensive front seven can hold the Panthers rushing attack to a minimum this secondary should terrorize Matt Moore all day.
5. Establish the Run to Open Up the Pass
Last year was a surprise to see the Giants run game struggle and the passing attack flourish. This year many people are expecting more of the same from New York. This better not be the case. The run is essential for the Giants to continue success in the passing game. If Kevin Gilbride establishes the run against a porous Panthers run defense ( Carolina ranked 22nd in terms of rushing yards allowed per game last season) expect the Giants to have a successful first game in the new Giants Stadium.