The Giants (2-1) face the Arizona Cardinals(1-2) Sunday afternoon at 4:00 Eastern time on Fox. The announcers will be Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston, and Tony Siragusa once again. Actually I don’t mind having the same crew back to back, as they might actually remember how the Giants played last week, and have some useful insight. We can only hope. This match-up may sound one sided, but the reality is, you can’t find a more statistically even game on the schedule. Despite their 1-2 record, the Arizona Cardinals will be a very tough opponent. They have lost to Washington and Seattle in the past two weeks, but only by a total of 4 points. Returning home, they will need to make a statement, where even in the weak NFC West, falling to 1-3 is not a good thing to do. After the Giants, they face the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings before their early bye. You know they would love to hit the break with a winning record.
On Offense: The Cardinals have struggled so far to gel as an offense. New Qb Kevin Kolb, whom the team acquired from Philadelphia in the off-season, has struggled in his decision making. He has not yet found a chemistry with his teammates. He has thrown for 5 TD’s while also throwing 3 picks, and fumbling once. He has also been sacked 8 times in this young season. Of course the Cardinals have All-World WR Larry Fitzgerald on their team, and he can be instant offense for any QB. Fitzgerald is capapble of making any catch against any number of defenders. We can only hope this isn’t the week Kolb and Fitzgerald find the same page. Also back in the mix for the Cardinals is running back Beanie Wells. Wells was out last week, but says he’s ready to go for the game on Sunday. Wells has 32 carries for 183 yards in 2 games, a great average, but if he only carries the ball 15 times, the Giants will have done their job. The Cardinals are a veteran team that have not learned how to work together.
On Defense: The Cardinals play a 3-4 defense. They are very strong up front and have an active Line backing corps. They are particularly strong on the left side with Darnell Dockett, Joey Porter, and rookie CB Patrick Peterson. Once again they are a veteran group, except at the two corner spots. Second year man A.J. Jefferson joins the rookie Peterson in the defensive backfield, however they are backed up by 18 years combined experience at the Safety spot in Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes. Look for Rhodes to blitz off the corner on third downs. The Giants must establish some dominance in the running game to neutralize the safeties. The more the Giants can run, the better chance they will have to throw it over the top of the defense for some big plays.
As I stated earlier these two teams are statistically similar. Let’s take a look:
Offensively the Giants rank 10th in the NFC, the Cardinals 8th. Yards per play, and total yards are almost identical. The Giants hold the edge in points per game and also in the all important turnover category. The Giants are +4, while the Cardinals are -1. On Defense the Giants currently rank 8th, while the Cardinals are at 14. However yards per play and points scored are virtually identical.
This contest will be all about turnovers, and pressuring a Qb in Kevin Kolb that hasn’t quite grasped his new system. Kolb will throw some prayers against pressure, the Giants have to hope Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t answer those prayers. Controlling the running game and forcing Kolb to look across at JPP, Tuck, Canty, Osi, Kiwi, and Michael Boley all day on third and long should prove a successful formula for the Giants. If this team were coached by anyone other than Tom Coughlin I would warn against the long travel, and a let down after last weeks big win. I don’t feel these are concerns. Giants should prevail, but this game is closer than most people think.