Undefeated Panthers vow not to overlook Giants

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[December 17, 2015]  By Larry Fine
 (Reuters) - On paper, the New York Giants look to be overmatched in Sunday's pivotal game against the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, but the rival National Football League coaches do not see it that way.

The Giants are fresh off a thrilling win that snapped a three-game skid and revived their playoff hopes and are now looking to use that momentum to upset the NFL's last remaining undefeated team.

"It's an exciting time for us. We are in the hunt here in the NFC East," Giants coach Tom Coughlin told reporters at the team's practice facility on Wednesday.

"This is a very, very good football team, an undefeated football team. We are excited to host them this weekend."

The Giants (6-7) are tied with Washington and Philadelphia for first in the sub-par NFC East division, but Carolina coach Ron Rivera sees them as a dangerous opponent.


"To come to New York and play this team with an Eli Manning as the quarterback and (receiver) Odell Beckham as an explosive playmaker ... yeah, I'm concerned," he told a conference call.

"They're hungry, they have a taste of victory coming off a Monday night win (over Miami), and they won it in the fashion that you would expect them to with their big playmakers making plays."

Carolina may be the most underrated 13-0 team the NFL has seen, slow to win accolades despite being the first this season to clinch an opening-round bye in the playoffs.

While quarterback Cam Newton is a leading candidate for league MVP honors with his strong arm and ability to run, the team has relied on its defense and running attack and is far from flashy.

"It's really irrelevant, it's really just background noise," tight end Greg Olsen said about perceptions of the team.

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"We donít need anybodyís votes, we donít need style points, we donít need any of that. In our league, your record is what you are ... weíre not going to apologize and weíre not going to change how we do it."

Coughlin noted that Carolina rate third overall on defense and sacks, are an NFL-best plus-18 in turnover margin, second in rushing and first in scoring at 31.6 points per game.

This should stimulate the New Yorkers, said Coughlin, whose team often play their best against top-flight opponents.

"Itís obviously the excitement about being involved in a game against a team of this ability and the natural competitive instincts that I would hope everyone at this level has," he said.

Rivera said there would be no let-up from the Panthers, still in pursuit of home-field advantage through the playoffs.

"We need the win," he said.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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