Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Carolina Panthers at NY Giants

Ah, yes. The two teams that cause Gavin to wince in preparation for perhaps playing them in the second round, that cause many a cold sweat, many a deep swallow and many a tear. On one side you have the Carolina Panthers, winners of the annual "Best/Worst Team/Impersonation of a Team in the NFL/Sun Belt" (hmmmmm, that joke became overly complicated). They were maddingly inconsistnent, alright? It was almost like, somehow, the Panthers were actually coached by Marty Schottenheimer instead of John Fox, who I had respected more as a coach until this year. They were the preseason favorite outside of the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl from the NFC. They immediately lost to the Saints in a game that could be sluffed off because of the emotional high the Saints were on from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. They then beat the Pats, and everything was right as rain. Until the next week, when they lost to the Dolphins. Inexcusable. The Dolphins weren't nearly as good at the beginning of the season as they were towards the end. They had a nice 6 game winning streak to get to 8-2, where, once again, they were anointed as the best team in the NFC. They had just whupped the Bucs and the Jets and were about to head to Soldier Field to handle the upstart Bears. Well, funny story. They were physically manhandled by the Bears, struggled to a 4-3 finish, and became the #5 seed instead of a #2 or #3 seed. This is not a success story, but is a team still struggling to find a consistent running game and a 2nd half heart from their defense.

Meanwhile, the NY Giants have enough ink on them to fill about seven thousand giants squids like that one huge puppet in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". By the way, the Captain in that movie should have done like in SeaQuest and either fought off the squid with some electric shocks or a funny talking dolphin with a teen heartthrob best friend. You have ELI MANNING, CAPTAIN OF ALL HE SURVEYS, you have TIKI BARBER, THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN THE NFL AND WE KNOW THAT BECAUSE WE'RE ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT HIM, you have JEREMY SHOCKEY, CREATOR OF MY FAVORITE NFL MOMENT OF THE YEAR, and, of course, JAY FEELY, HERO, LEGEND, AND MOUSEKETEER. Tom Coughlin has done a great job with these guys, but the hype train has shifted into monster overdrive, so we'll skip talking about them until the actual preview, which, I guess, starts right about now.

Carolina "O" vs. NY Giants "D"

Best Matchup: DeShaun Foster (RB) vs. Anonymous (LB) - Here is the line for Foster in the last seven games.... 41, 74, 131, 46, 75, 68, 165. Two of those numbers are not like the others. Guess which ones? The two games versus the Atlanta Falcons, home to Pro-Bowl quarterback and proven winner Michael Vick and the worst run defense in the NFL. Hmmmmm. Well, the Giants have a pretty good run defense, er, they did until their entire linebacking corps bit the dust in what can only be described as an act of Zeus. I'll be honest with you. I have little to no idea who MLB Kevin Lewis is, but Antonio Pierce sure won't be there, which means that this is a great matchup because I have no idea who will dominate this one. It might be the inconsistent running back or it might be the no-name linebacking corps.

Gavin: Nice job on the stats. Carolina cannot run the ball. Anyone who thinks they can right now is in love with last week. Always a problem. Atlanta gave up.

Can You Say Steve Smith? - By the way, I'm not Gavin, so I come up with my own categories. Gavin is a tool. Anyways, this is the guy I will be focused on while the Panthers are on the field. I remember watching him in the Super Bowl two years ago and being astounded at how he took that game over. The Panthers had been Stephen Davis' team all year, but the Patriots just could not handle Steve Smith even when it became apparent that he was getting the ball basically every play. That was the Patriots, with Bruschi, Johnson, McGinest...... Well, the Giants have no one special in either the secondary or the linebacking corps. If Delhomme has time to throw the football, I won't be surprised to see Steve Smith get close to 200 yards by himself in this game.

Who Can Get to Jake? - One thing the Giants do have on defense is a pass-rush led by two incredible defensive ends. We all know about Michael Strahan, but one of the most impressive things I saw all season was Walter Jones getting schooled by Osi Umenyiora. I will also be watching that gentleman line up and go full-bore after Delhomme, who has been known to make some pretty godawful decisions under pressure. Carolina definitely needs to put some points up on the board, so forcing Jake into multiple turnovers might seal the deal in this one.

Gavin: This is actually in my opinion the most important aspect of this game. I just watched Around the Horn (sheer laugh potential every time), and not one of the blowhards mentioned how Carolina was not going to be able to block Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan. Why am I so confident about that? Perhaps a little game against Chicago where Jake Delhomme was sacked every other time he dropped back. This team cannot protect, which means that New York's secondary doesn't have to guard Steve Smith as long as they otherwise would have. Delhomme also makes terrible decisions when he's under pressure, forcing many a ball. I see three sacks for one of that tandem.

NY Giants "O" vs. Carolina "D"

Best Matchup: Plaxico Burress (WR) vs. Chris Gamble/Ken Lucas (CB) - Burress is the big-play threat for Eli Manning, and he has repeatedly shown up in big games this season, whether against the Broncos or the Seahawks. He's big, strong, and fearless over the middle. Lucas especially has been known to be vulnerable over the top, while Gamble is still young and improving, though they both are excellent corners right now. They might be able to trick Eli Manning into throwing an interception if they play their cards right.

Gavin: "Lucas especially has been known to be vulnerable over the top" is one of the biggest understatements of this whole preview.

What about Eli? - Here's the #1 question for me coming into this game. Eli might show up with a 300 yard, 3 TD game, or he might completely suck. I really don't know what to expect. Carolina has a terrific defense, and Julius Peppers is going to be attacking Eli every time he turns around. The loss of Dan Morgan might allow Jeremy Shockey to roam wild and free in the middle of the field, and that is Eli's safety valve. In the end, this game might be all about Tiki anyways, so this point will be moot, but I really don't think that Eli has a very good game.

Gavin: I believe if Carolina jumps out to a huge lead the Giants are definitely in trouble, because you cannot depend on Eli Manning and his 50% completion percentage to lead a comeback in his first postseason effort. Not to mention the fact that the Giants lead the league in dropped passes and it's not a recipe for success throwing the ball. That's what makes Colin's next category below so important... Tiki Barber. He has to be the centerpiece of the Giant attack. He has to touch the ball thirty times.

Speaking of...... - Tiki Barber, all of a sudden, became the best running back NOT named Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson the second half of the year. He is improving with age, and the Giants should be inclined to make sure he touches the ball at least thirty times this game. The Panthers are vulnerable against the run. Julius Jones recently gashed them repeatedly IN CAROLINA. If he can do that, Tiki should be able to rack up the yards with ease. However, it remains to be seen if Coughlin will make Tiki the focus of the offense or stick with the glamour of Eli and the passing game.

The Crushed Line: Too much Tiki plus No Running Game by Carolina equals Close but not quite. The Giants win in a close one.

Gavin: This will be a low scoring affair with little offense, but the Giants pass rush plus not being able to completely corral Tiki means the Giants win by seven.

posted by colin_hesse @ 2:52 PM  2 comments


At 8:21 PM, Blogger Tash said...

Was I right or was I right??(?)

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Gavin said...

You were right... the Jags were the worst 12-4 team in history.


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