Manning must go deep to tame Panthers

Jim O'Connor/US Presswire

Eli Manning threw for 510 yards in Week 1. What will he do for an encore tonight vs the Panthers?Through Week 2 of the 2012 season, 20 teams have 1-1 records, the most in a single season in NFL history. Two of those 20 teams face off tonight in Charlotte, where the Carolina Panthers host the New York Giants.

How important is this game? Since 1990, 54 percent of 2-1 teams have reached the playoffs but only 24 percent of 1-2 teams have done so.

When the Giants have the ball

Eli Manning threw for 510 yards in Week 2, tied for the eighth-most in NFL history. So what will he do for an encore? Only eight other quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown for at least 510 yards and five of them have won their next game after doing so, with only three passing for more than 300 yards.

Eli Manning Passing 21+ Yds Downfield
Last 2 Seasons

One key to his success against the Buccaneers was his ability to stretch the field. He was 4-for-6 for 203 yards on passes that traveled more than 20 yards downfield in Week 2.

Since the start of last season, no quarterback has thrown for more yards on throws of 21-plus air yards than Eli and only Drew Brees has more touchdown passes on such throws.

He’ll be challenged to repeat that success on Sunday when facing a Panthers defense that has limited deep passing this year. Their opponents have attempted only two passes of 21-or-more yards downfield and completed one of those throws for 29 yards.

Also, with Hakeem Nicks out, Manning will be without one of his favorite deep threats. Nicks played 133 of the team’s 140 snaps in Weeks 1 and 2, the most of any Giants wide receiver. He was targeted four times on throws of over 20 air yards this season and 36 times since the start of 2011, both of which lead all Giants players.

When the Panthers have the ball

After tying a franchise record with 10 rushing yards in Week 1, the Panthers came alive in Week 2, totaling 219 yards on the ground against the New Orleans Saints. The G-Men haven’t allowed that many rush yards in any game since Week 15 of 2009. Their opponent that day? The Panthers, of course.

Panthers Rushing by Play Type
This Season

The Panthers used variations of the option on 23 rushes in Week 2 after doing so just once in Week 1.

The Panthers are using the option play at twice the rate of the next highest team this season, and are averaging nearly twice as many yards per rush on options this season than on non-option plays.

The Giants last year had one of the most potent pass rushes when using standard pressure, ranking second in the league with 34 sacks when sending four or fewer rushers. This year, however, they have just two such sacks and opposing quarterbacks are averaging 10.2 yards per attempt against the Giants standard pressure, the third-highest mark in the league.

The Big Blue defense might have trouble slowing Cam Newton tonight, who is averaging a league-best 10.4 yards per attempt against four or fewer rushers this season, but has been sacked three times in those situations.