On a week-to-week basis, the NFL reverses field as much as Deion Sanders used to on punt returns. It’s inherently unpredictable, which is part of the reason they can keep on building more giant casinos in Las Vegas.
In any big game, you can make a case for both teams.
** The Giants’ case this week would be: New York has been embarrassed two weeks in a row. The Giants will be highly motivated. They will be playing at home. They will likely have running back Brandon Jacobs on the field again, and he’s bigger than a lot of defensive linemen. They know they can clinch homefield advantage with the victory (as can Carolina, as both teams are 11-3). They know how to play in Giants Stadium, especially in wicked weather. Tom Coughlin is going to make their lives miserable if they don’t win this one. And they are the defending Super Bowl champions.
** The Panthers’ case would be: Carolina is 2-0 the past two weeks in big games, while the Giants are 0-2. Carolina has scored at least 28 points in the past five games, while in the past two the Giants scored only one garbage-time touchdown. DeAngelo Williams is the league’s hottest back. Eli Manning got sacked eight times last week, and when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the thigh, he also shot the Giants’ offense in the foot. John Fox knows how to win at Giants Stadium, even in the sort of bad weather that is expected tonight.
** I don’t pretend to know what will happen Sunday night, but I will tell you this: I’ve picked the Panthers’ outcome correctly the past six weeks in a row.
So here’s my shot at seven straight.
Carolina 13, New York 10.