The NFLWeather.com forecast projects mostly clear skies over Charlotte for Thursday
night’s matchup with the Giants. But with Steve Smith and Kealoha Pilares limited in
Tuesday’s practice, the Carolina Panther’s might stay closer to the ground. Quarterback
Cam Newton’s top target is a healthy Brandon LaFell who has hauled in nine catches
for 155 yards and a touchdown in two games. Still, Newton has plenty of weapons to
choose from.

A short week certainly hinders the recovery time for former Pro-Bowler Steve Smith and
Kealoha Pilares so tight end Greg Olsen will have to make his presence much more
known following a one reception outing last week. Olsen’s lone grab was for 13 yards
but he was an integral part of the offense in week one with six catches for 56 yards. A
damp football may keep Newton from looking deep and if Olsen can make a few grabs
in traffic and tie up the linebackers, he’ll be huge factor in the red zone.

Like Olsen in Carolina’s offense, Giants tight end Martellus Bennett is a huge target
on short yardage passing downs. And if the weather deters New York’s passing
game, former Cowboy Bennett could have just as big a day as last week if not bigger.
Bennett had 72 yards on five receptions and a highlight-reel touchdown grab in last
week’s win at home. The Giants have used a number of tight ends over the last few
years but Bennett’s big frame and soft hands could make him a perfect fit in this
fast paced offense. And with Cruz and Hakeem Nicks not participating in Tuesday’s
practice, following Eli Manning’s monster game last week, this week’s game has all the
possibilities of being Bennett’s breakout performance.

According to NFLWeather.com’s historical weather analytics database, the Giants have
won their last three games in the rain while Carolina is 1-1 dating back through last
season. However, in home games with overcast skies the Panthers have won three of
their last four while the Giants have won three out of three on the road. But, the current
forecast is for mostly clear skies, creating opportunity for some big offensive numbers
and fantasy projections.

Will Strome

Columnist, NFLWeather.com
NFP@NFLWeather.com