Here we go, two gladiators will face off Sunday with the NFC No. 1 seed on the line, as well as home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This matchup will be about who wants it more, Carolina or the Giants, and as of right now, Carolina has been playing like they want it more, more than any other team in the NFL.
Sunday I believe the Panthers will play harder than ever before. It is not known whether Brandon Jacobs will be back. Jacobs attended one practice so anything is possible. As for the Panthers, Maake Kemoeatu did not participate in practice Wednesday.
The Panthers' defense will have to go into Giants Stadium prepared to stop the Giants' ground game with or without the Giants having Brandon Jacobs. On the first series the Panthers should try to make a statement by both getting into the back field and stopping their running backs or bring pressure on Eli Manning.
Holding or no holding, Julius Peppers and Tyler Brayton need to manage the end position. Hopefully Maake Kemoeatu will be back to help stuff the middle. Our defensive backs need to step it up a little bit more, especially since the Giants are without Plaxico Burress.
Whoever is covering Amani Toomer will need to shut him down and it can be done. There is a rumor that the Giants might try to sign Joe Horn but if they do he probably will not be active for Sunday.
The Panthers' offense has been rolling for the past two games especially the run game. Our running back tandem, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, is doing perfectly, and they should have a great game against the Giants' run defense.
As you saw last week, the Giants gave up 98 yards rushing to Dallas, even though they were without Marion Barber. But things will be way different versus our dual backs. As far as our passing game goes, the Panthers will be challenged but they can rise to the occasion. The offensive line needs to give Jake Delhomme the protection that he needs so that he can make the plays that can help us win this game.
My prediction is Carolina, 24-14.
You can catch the game on NBC at 8:15 PM.
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