The Giants plan to rebound from last week's loss to the Rams and pick up their second win of the season this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
In the first of two consecutive games at MetLife Stadium, the Giants fell to the Los Angeles Rams, 38-11. The game saw several players join the long list of injured Giants, including several starters on offense.
After winning the first three games of the season, the Carolina Panthers have dropped three straight. Carolina lost in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings last week, 34-28. After scoring 11 unanswered points in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, the Panthers allowed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to drive down the field and score a touchdown to win the game.
Here are five story lines to follow in the Week 7 matchup at MetLife Stadium.
Heading into Week 6, the Giants had 13 players on injured reserve, including key contributors on both sides of the ball. The list did not include players such as Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton and Ben Bredeson, who missed the game with respective ailments.
The injury list got even longer Sunday. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who was in the midst of a streak of breakout performances, re-aggravated an ankle injury he suffered Week 5 in Dallas. Although Toney was able to avoid injured reserve, two of his teammates did not have the same luck. Second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas (ankle) was injured against the Rams and landed on IR, ineligible to return until after the bye - in Week 11 against Tampa Bay. Joining him on IR is C.J. Board, who fractured his forearm.
"It's our job to have all the players prepared; it's their job to be prepared and go out there and be productive," Coach Joe Judge said Wednesday. "You don't want to lose any player."
State of the O-line
LT Andrew Thomas (foot) returned to the starting lineup against the Rams, but was unable to finish the game after going down with an ankle injury to his other foot. Head Coach Joe Judge said the Giants will use a combination of Nate Solder, Matt Peart and Korey Cunningham to fill in at the two tackle spots.
After going two consecutive weeks without giving up a sack, the Giants surrendered four against the Rams. The Panthers enter this matchup tied for the sixth-most sacks in the league with 16. Carolina's pass rush is led by Haason Reddick (6.5 sacks) and Brian Burns (3.0 sacks). Reddick faced the Giants last year as a member of the Cardinals and registered an impressive five sacks and three forced fumbles.
"They play very fast up the field on the defensive front," Judge said of the Panthers' defense. "They're one of the best in the league. There's a lot of speed on the second level with the linebackers and defensive backs. Very opportunistic, they make plays – you can get disrupted."
Winning the turnover battle
The Giants head into Week 7 with a turnover difference of minus-1. The game that turned the tide for the Giants was last week's loss against the Rams, when the offense lost the ball four times while the defense was able to register just two takeaways. Daniel Jones threw three interceptions and lost a fumble for a career-high four turnovers in the setback.
"I think it's just forcing things that weren't there and bad decisions that set us back," Jones reflected Wednesday. "I think just not staying true to the reads, some of the things we were talking about earlier and trusting that. I've got to understand that, understand what went wrong, what I was thinking and make sure I correct it."
Panthers QB Sam Darnold has nine giveaways this season (only Trevor Lawrence, 11, has more) and leads the NFL with seven giveaways since Week 4.
View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers ahead of their Week 7 matchup.
Limiting Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold led Carolina to three straight wins to start the season, throwing for just under 300 yards per game during that stretch. But he has not had nearly as much success in recent weeks, averaging 228.3 yards per game with four touchdowns and six interceptions over their last three contests – all losses.
"I think he's been very productive. I think he's a big, strong quarterback. He's got a big arm and he's very aggressive with a lot of throws…" Judge said. "He's a talented quarterback and they've got a lot of weapons. He's going to find a way to get the ball around."
Darnold has rushed the ball 26 times for 110 yards this season (4.2 avg.). He's also run for five touchdowns, matching the total over the first three seasons of his career.
"You can't forget about this guy's legs," said Judge. "It's the one thing you see a lot of teams right now, they're dropping you in the zone or letting the man kind of a carry them out of it. He does a good job keeping his eyes downfield. When he sees an opportunity, he pulls it and runs. He's smart with running the ball, he's productive, he gets down. He's good in the low red area as far as getting that thing in the end zone as a runner with his legs."
The Giants pass defense struggled last week, allowing Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to complete 78.6 percent of his passes for 251 yards, four touchdowns and one interception before resting for most of the fourth quarter. He also added two rushes for 12 yards. On the season, the Giants defense ranks 22nd in passing yards and 28th in passing touchdowns allowed.
Matching up against Panthers WRs
The alpha in Carolina's wide receiver room is clearly D.J. Moore. Moore has caught more than double the amount of passes than any other player in the Panthers' offense. Through six games, the talented playmaker has registered 40 receptions for 513 yards and three touchdowns, all of which lead the team.
Robby Anderson, who spent the first two seasons of Darnold's career with the quarterback on the Jets, has caught just 15 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. But over the last two weeks, the 28-year-old has had 29 passes thrown in his direction, including two games with double-digit targets. Rookie Terrace Marshall rounds out the group. The first-year player has reeled in only 14 passes for 116 yards, but has shown flashes of his potential. Marshall got banged up during last week's loss against the Vikings.
"They've got very talented receivers who are always a shot threat," Judge said. "They're very good in situations. Think (Offensive Coordinator) Joe Brady does a really good job of mixing up what they're going to do and using the information he can gather pre-snap from you to go ahead and take advantage of what you give them."
The biggest beneficiary of Stafford's big game last week was Cooper Kupp, who finished with a dominant nine receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns.