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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch for vs. Panthers

1. The matchup. For the third time in four weeks, the 1-3 New York Giants hit the road to take on the 2-1 Carolina Panthers in Week 4 (1 p.m., FOX). Big Blue was unable to build off the Week 3 victory in Houston, falling to New Orleans at home last week. Carolina, meanwhile, defeated Dallas and Cincinnati with a road loss to Atlanta in between. The Giants trail the all-time regular-season series with the Panthers, 4-5. Carolina won the only postseason meeting in the Wild Card round of the 2005 season.

2. October football. The Giants are 214-164-10 (.564) in the month of October, including 35-15 in their last 50 games. They are 1-0 (1.000) in August, 116-110-5 (.513) in September, 208-179-16 (.536) in November, 144-130-2 (.525) in December and 5-5 (.500) in January. Note: regular-season records only.

3. Apple in; Vernon still out. Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon's 2018 debut will have to wait at least another game. He was limited in practice this week, but the Giants ultimately ruled him out as he has yet to play this season due to an ankle injury he suffered in practice in late August. Tight end Evan Engram will miss his second consecutive game after leaving the Giants' Week 3 win in Houston with a knee injury. Meanwhile, the Giants will get back starting cornerback Eli Apple (groin) after he missed two games. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison (knee), outside linebacker (knee), wide receiver/kick returner Cody Latimer, and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (back) are full-go.

4. Carolina fresh off an early bye. The Panthers' injury report is a little cleaner after an idle Week 4, but they will be playing without three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen (foot) for the second consecutive game. They will, however, get back wide receiver and 2017 second-round daft pick Curtis Samuel, who after rehabbing an ankle injury this offseason has not played this year because of a health scare.

5. Keep pounding. The Giants' past two trips to Carolina could not have gone more differently with a 67-point swing from their 36-7 victory in 2012 to their 38-0 loss one year and two days later. The latter was the first victory in Carolina for general manager Dave Gettleman, who is in his first season in the same role with the Giants. Panthers fans have not seen their team lose at Bank of America Stadium since Oct. 12, 2017, a streak of seven games in which Carolina has outscored its opponents by an average of nearly nine points.

6. Searching for points. Through Week 4, league-wide scoring continues to trend up at a historic rate. The totals for points scored (3,030), touchdowns (344) and touchdown passes (228) are all the highest in NFL history through the first four weeks of a season. The Giants, however, have failed to hop on that wave thus far. They are averaging 18.3 points per game, 29th in the NFL. On the flip side, the Panthers' defense, which is led by five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, ranks eighth in scoring (20.0) and 13th in total yards (356.7).

7. Peterson, Hunt…Barkley? Rookie running back Saquon Barkley, the second overall draft pick, can accomplish a statistical milestone reached by just two other players in the NFL's 99-season history. Barkley can join Adrian Peterson and Kareem Hunt as the only players to total at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of their first five career games.

8. Eleven vs. One. The Giants face another former NFL MVP quarterback this week in Cam Newton, the only active player to lead an NFL franchise in both career touchdown passes (163) and rushing touchdowns (57). The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder is completing 67.4 of his passes this season for an average of 215.3 yards per game with five touchdowns to one interception. He also averages 45.3 rushing yards per game with three more touchdowns for the No. 1 run team in the NFL.

9. First Kamara, now McCaffrey. A week after facing the Saints' Alvin Kamara, the Giants go up against another dual-threat running back in Christian McCaffrey, who last year became the first rookie running back in NFL history with at least 70 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. He is being featured more in the run game this year, with his average carries per game increasing from 7.3 to 15.3 and rushing yards from 27.2 to 90.3.

10. Connections. For whatever reason, some organizations are just closer than others. The Giants and Panthers fall in that category. From their front offices to coaches to players, the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers have connections at all levels. On the Giants' side, that list includes Gettleman (with the Panthers from 2013-16), director of player personnel Mark Koncz (1994- 2016), offensive coordinator Mike Shula (2011-16), special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey (2016-17), wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert (2010), and equipment manager Jackie Miles, who held the same position with the Panthers since the team's inception in 1994 through the 2017. Gettleman is scheduled to make the trip after not traveling with the team to Dallas and Houston due to his treatments for lymphoma since the spring.

On the Panthers' side, special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn played eight seasons as a linebacker and special teams ace for the Giants (2005-12) and won two Super Bowls. Shurmur also worked with Panthers coach Ron Rivera in Philadelphia, and Norv Turner and his son, quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, in Minnesota.

"Every time I've ever been in this scenario where we really know this team or really know that team, you overthink it and I think it's important that we don't do that," Shurmur said. "I worked with Ron Rivera in Philly way back when, know him very well, I worked with Norv, I worked with Scott, and obviously the guys from Carolina that are here. There's some generality, some things you think about and try to apply, but what's really important is watch the tape, prepare for the team that we're playing based on what we see."

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