CHARLOTTE – The undefeated Panthers' next test takes them to New York to face a Giants team battling to join Carolina in the NFC postseason picture.
"That's what makes it fun," linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "New York is in the same position that we were last year. They win the rest of their games and they're in. We have some stuff on the table, too."
The Panthers are still trying to fend off the Arizona Cardinals for homefield advantage throughout the postseason. They can accomplish that with a victory at MetLife Stadium on Sunday coupled with a Cardinals loss at Philadelphia.
"This is a big game for us because we haven't clinched (home field) all the way through," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We would love to clinch that. It's important that we play well."
The Giants (6-7) are locked in a three-way tie atop the NFC East, and head coach Tom Coughlin said it's exciting to host the only undefeated team with so much on the line.
"It's extremely motivational and inspirational to us," said Coughlin, "because this is the best team in the league, the team with the best record and we have a chance at home to continue to battle and to keep hopefully our hopes alive."
Coughlin and the Giants are no stranger to late-season runs and highly-anticipated games against unbeaten foes. In 2007, they nearly ended New England's undefeated run in Week 17, falling just short 38-35. But the Giants won the big one, edging the Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.
"It's not about taking down the other team; it's about us and our quest to win a game and in that case to win a Super Bowl," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "We're in that same kind of playoff mentality right now with the way our record is and what we're doing to get into the playoffs."
Injuries are forcing the Panthers to make some changes for this Week 15 matchup. Starting running back Jonathan Stewart is out with a foot injury, meaning Carolina will employ a by-committee approach in the backfield.
Additionally, cornerback Bene Benwikere is out for the year after suffering a fractured leg last week. That means newly signed cornerback Robert McClain will be thrust into action. Fortunately for Carolina, veteran cornerback Charles Tillman is returning from a four-game absence.
"I have confidence in those guys. They'll be ready to go," linebacker Thomas Davis said. "It's about playing team defense. It's not about just one position group getting it done. We have to get it done together."