Romilly Evans expects the New York defense to finally get their acts together in the opening game of Week 3
"The Giants’ D will have to combat the maverick moves of Newton and a balanced receiving corps"
This week's early game features the two quarter-backs who enjoyed landmark bounce-back performances in Week Two after disappointing opening weekends.
Eli Manning once again stole the plaudits for the New York Giants, masterminding a late rally of Herculean proportions, as Big Blue recovered for a 41-34 win in Tampa. Manning Jnr racked up a mammoth 510 yards along the way, 243 of which were registered in a 25-point fourth quarter. It was the eighth highest total in league history.
However, while the two-time Super Bowl MVP once again proved that he can find a way back when it matters most, he also threw three picks in the first half in a trademark Jekyll-and-Hyde show. Cam Newton, on the other hand, demonstrated more poise and variety as his Carolina Panthers stunned the New Orleans Saints 35-27. Newton's 71 yards on the ground contributed to the Panthers' second-highest rushing total (219) in franchise history, while he neatly balanced that out with 12 completions of at least 20 yards.
After a slow start last term, Newton still managed to secure Rookie of the Year QB honours. And while he wasn't up against much in that category - it was like Meryl Streep being shortlisted for Best Newcomer - he impressed with his rare blend of speed and throwing power. This season, Newton only trails the physical specimen that is RG3 in rushing (eclipsing Mike Vick along the way) and looks to have matured in his decision-making. Sure, he's been sacked four times in two games but, as a career scrambler, that goes with the territory.
While tonight's game therefore showcases a fascinating clash in styles - between a classic drop-back QB and a supreme athlete - the game-changing hard yards will doubtless be gained on defense. The Giants' secondary were particularly porous against the Bucs, with the opposition's receivers meandering through them as if they were trees. It was surely too bad to be true and will act as a motivating spur for defensive co-ordinator, Perry Fewell, who auditioned for the top job in Charlotte in 2011. Fewell missed out to Ron Rivera then, so will be keen to make a point now.
The Giants' D will have to combat the maverick moves of Newton and a balanced receiving corps - five different players scored touchdowns for the Panthers against the Saints. However, Green Bay got their act together in similar fashion against the potent Bears last week, and I would strongly expect a more cohesive and coherent unit to reassemble for the Giants too. This is a team which usually learns from its mistakes.
The Vegas line (a one-point start) is largely an irrelevance, so play the Giants on the straightforward money line. This is the sort of game where Manning may well have his lapses but should end up just doing enough. And if that sounds like a disconcertingly vague conclusion, Giants' supporters should take heart from the emergence of Andre Brown as a worthy replacement for Ahmad Bradshaw. Brown surprised a few with his 71 yards off 13 carries for one TD and looks a trustworthy type who'll take his chance as starter.
Both teams have injury concerns at wide receiver. And while Hakeem Nicks is out for New York, neither Steve Smith nor Kealoha Pillares will be at full throttle for Carolina. Under Points accordingly looks a shrewd move.