Some thoughts about Thursday night’s Giants-Panthers prime-time game and my prediction:
-- The two Eli Manning numbers I’m most impressed with have nothing to do with those 510 yards he threw for against Tampa Bay Sunday.
The first one is a number you know – the number two, which is how many Super Bowls he’s won. The second is 122 – he will start his 122nd game in a row Thursday against Carolina. He has started every Giants game since November 21, 2004. There have been 23 other starting quarterbacks in the rest of the NFC East since then.
That’s something to aspire to for Cam Newton, who plays a higher-risk game than Manning, who runs the ball only when he absolutely has to. Newton has never missed a play to injury in his young career and will start his 19th straight game Thursday.
But one very good quarterback for nearly eight years straight… man. No wonder the Giants have been so good.
The Observer’s Joseph Person has a nice story today about Newton and the question of whether the Panthers are better when he runs (and they certainly are, although there’s a danger element there).
-- The last time Hakeem Nicks played against the Panthers was in 2010, and the Charlotte product torched the Panthers for three touchdowns. This time he's not playing. That could be huge for Carolina.
-- Listen, you’ve got to come earlier to this game (which kicks off at 8:20 p.m., and can be seen locally on Channel 9 as well as NFL Network) than you think you need to. The new security "wanding" procedures in place are making things safer but also slowing things down at the gate. Don’t wait until the last minute.
-- As many of you have very kindly pointed out to me, I have managed to start the season 0-2 in my Panther predictions on game day. (My preseason pick for the entire season was 8-8; last year this blind squirrel did find an acorn as I picked the Panthers 6-10 in the preseason and they finished 6-10).
Many of you have also asked nicely for me to pick against the Panthers once again vs. the Giants to “guarantee” a Carolina win.
OK, fine. I understand superstition. It’s hard to pick against the Super Bowl champions anyway.
My pick: New York Giants 26, Carolina 24.