The Giants (1-3) at the Carolina Panthers (2-1) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m. ET.
It will be warm and muggy with temperatures in the mid-80s, and they better play fast because there's a chance for late-day thunderstorms.
WHAT IT MEANS
The game surely means a lot to Giants GM Dave Gettleman, who built this Panthers team, for the most part, before he was fired. He's still in the early stages of building the Giants, but this is a critical game. Remember, this was supposed to be a win-now team, but they are stuck in a terrible offensive rut and are in great danger of this season slipping away. They're still in the stage of the season where one win can change the mood, because 2-3 will make them feel a heck of a lot better than 1-4. But at 1-4, especially if the offense stinks again, it's going to be hard to make the players believe they have any hope over the last 11 games.
PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Saquon Barkley
Head coach Pat Shurmur admittedly didn't use his rookie running back enough, especially as a runner, last weekend. He won't make that mistake twice. Ever since he got the job, Shurmur has raved about the things he can do in his offense with a dangerous, two-way running back. And he's raved about how good Barkley is. He's used him as a receiver, and at times as a two-way threat, but he got away from it on Sunday against the Saints when Barkley only ran 10 times. Granted, the Giants' overall running game has been spotty. But Shurmur seems committed to it.
Now it's up to Barkley to prove the faith in him is warranted. He has to be consistent with his runs and needs to break a big one (or maybe two). If that happens, then the play-action game gets set up and maybe Eli Manning can unleash some of those deep passes he keeps avoiding.
I made a mistake believing in the Giants' offense. I thought they would top 30 last week. That was their opportunity. If they were ever going to do it, it was against the porous Saints defense. But I won't make that mistake again. They didn't just play the game poorly. They played it scared. They let an inferior defense dictate to them what they would be doing, and if they do that this week -- on the road against a much better Panthers defense -- they will have trouble scoring at all.
To make matters worse, the Panthers' offense can hit them right where they hurt the most. The Giants' defense has been most vulnerable against quarterbacks who move (especially when they run) and in the short-passing game. The combination of Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey could really eat up the clock and wear down the Giants' defense - especially if the Giants' offense keeps putting that defense back on the field. Maybe Shurmur has the right idea. Maybe riding Barkley a little more will help them move the ball. I still think they need to throw down field, though, to win games like this. And I've yet to see any sign that they're willing or capable of doing it. ... Panthers 27, Giants 13.
MY RECORD: 1-3
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO WIN: 0-2
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO LOSE: 1-1