The New York Giants can’t afford a bad game from Odell Beckham, and so keeping him away from Josh Norman, who tends to be the Carolina Panthers man for covering #1 wide receivers, is an important task as they prepare their offensive plan for the crucial week 15 clash with the only undefeated team in the league.
Norman has been fantastic this season, probably capturing the fluid and ever changing label of “best shutdown corner in the NFL”. He has held DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, Dez Bryant and Julio Jones to a combined 89 yards this season. Maybe it had something to do with bad quarterbacks, but this is still an astonishing number. And the Giants, who don’t have an offense without the Manning-Beckham connection, would like to keep their #1 guy away from Norman, who also has four interceptions this season.
Beckham has 1320 yards this season with 12 touchdown catches, and after struggling through his first seven games of the season with just two games of over 100 yards, he’s been on fire since the beginning of November, with six consecutive games of over 100 yards in receiving while eight touchdown catches, including a couple in the recent win against the Miami Dolphins. Even while the Giants were losing three in a row, Beckham kept getting the job done.
It’s not like playing in the slot is new to him. He has been positioned there 23.7% of the time this season, and we’re probably going to see more and more of it in the game against the Panthers, which isn’t a must-win per se for the Giants, but it’s highly recommended that they win considering how tight things are on top of the NFC East, with three different NFC East teams.
With the Panthers’ nickel corner Bene Benwikere injured it’s even more of a temptation to play Beckham exclusively out of the slot. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Panthers react, and whether or not they change their habit of keeping Norman only on the outside, or start moving him around with the number one receiver of the opposition, regardless of where he’s lining up.