Giants vs. Panthers Week 7 pick and prediction

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Daniel Jones running with Judge and Garrett in background home day game
Daniel Jones running with Judge and Garrett in background home day game

Carolina Panthers (3-3) at GIANTS (1-5)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Spread: Panthers, -3

It is really hard to imagine that the Giants are actually as bad as they looked last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. They were an embarrassment on both sides of the ball. Daniel Jones looked like he threw away all his early-season progress. In the fourth quarter, it looked like they just gave up.

They probably aren’t really that bad, to be honest. They certainly hadn’t looked like that much of a train wreck in any of their first five games. It’s more likely that all their injuries finally overwhelmed them, especially when they lost rookie receiver Kadarius Toney and left tackle Andrew Thomas early in the game.

Here’s the problem, though: The injuries are still mounting. They will still be without Thomas and Toney, and receiver Kenny Golladay and running back Saquon Barkley, too. Tight end Evan Engram and receiver Sterling Shepard are also dealing with injuries. And that’s on top of all the other injuries they already have.

And here’s the bigger problem: Most of the Giants’ injuries are on offense and the Panthers have the NFL’s third-ranked defense, not to mention a potent pass rush that averages nearly three sacks per game. Jones is going to have to figure out how to beat them without most of his weapons, behind a line that is missing three original starters, and with probably no running game to rely on at all.

Based on what he showed last week against the Rams, that seems like a lot to ask.

On the bright side, it’s not like the Panthers’ offense is much of a threat to light up the Giants, even with the way the Giants defense is playing. There is no doubt that after a very hot start, former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has regressed – especially in the last two games in which he’s completed just 48.7 percent of his passes and thrown four interceptions. And a lot of that is because he lost his best weapon, running back Christian McCaffrey, who is out for this game, too.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule has vowed changes. He’s promising a re-commitment to the run behind McCaffrey’s backup, Chuba Hubbard. And maybe that will help Darnold. It might help him, too, that he and receiver Robby Anderson are making their return to the Meadowlands. If nothing else, Darnold – who has been sacked 12 times in the last three games – is likely to have a lot more time in the pocket against a Giants’ pass rush has been nonexistent all season long.

But these aren’t the Rams, and this game shouldn’t get away from the Giants like the last game did when the Rams scored 28 points in the second quarter. Chances are they can be in this one until the end. And yes, there’s some urgency, too. This game represents the Giants' best shot to win in their next four games – maybe their only shot to avoid being 1-9 when they sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

But unless Jones plays well enough to make something out of almost literally nothing, he probably still doesn’t have enough of an offense around him to keep up, even if the Panthers aren’t a high-scoring team. The Giants are going to keep this game a lot closer. But if they don’t play a heck of a lot better than they did a week ago, they’re still not likely to win.

Pick: Take the Panthers minus the 3 points

Prediction: Panthers 24, Giants 16

My record straight up: 3-3

My record against the spread: 1-4-1

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