Coming off of an improbable win against one of the NFC’s best teams, the surging New York Giants are going for their 5th straight win against another NFC West opponent in the Arizona Cardinals. These two teams are headed in two totally different directions. The Giants have won their last four games while Arizona has lost four of their last five. While the Giants are currently tied for first in their division in a heated fight with the Washington Football Team the Cardinals are fighting for one of the final remaining seeds in the NFC. With the NFL season quickly coming to a close this battle of contenders should be interesting.
With the events of the offseason transpiring the way it did, it forced Dave Gettleman to patch up a secondary with many issues. The only stable piece of the unit at the time was their breakout corner, James Bradberry. Gettleman made a few last second moves that included trading for Isaac Yiadom. He also drafted former UCLA Bruin Darnay Holmes to play out of the slot. Right before the start of training camp the team also added cornerback Logan Ryan who has played most of his snaps at free safety this season.
While Yiadom and Holmes struggled to begin the year, their level of play has elevated significantly. With those two playing well, it really gives the Giants a deep cornerback trio along with James Bradberry who has been exceptional against elite competition all season. It seems to me and many Giants fans alike that what seemed to be a bandaid on a broken leg type fix has formed into a deep secondary that plays well together. As a team, the Giants rank 18th in passing yards per game. However, over the last three games the secondary ranks 6th in that same category so there is a noticeable improvement. With an opposing receiving corps of DeAndre Hopkins Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald, the secondary must continue their great play.
While it sounds strange to say it is true that the Giants’ running game has been better without Saquon Barkley. Last year the unit ranked 19th in rushing yards per game a 105,3. In the strange year that is 2020, they rank 11th racking up 119.8 yards per game on the ground. This is an amazing jump in production considering that Wayne Gallman is the feature back. Alfred Morris is also receiving a fair share of carries. Those who remember the mid-2000’s championship teams remember that their style of football was predicated on the run game and defense. That is the kind of football that the 2020 Giants are playing ladies and gentlemen.
It was just two weeks ago that I said health was a strength of the Giants. However, that has changed significantly. The injury report this week lists quarterback Daniel Jones, linebacker Blake Martinez, and cornerback Darnay Holmes all as questionable for Sunday’s game. In addition defensive back Madre Harper was placed on IR. Holmes and Martinez were key pieces in the Giants’ victory last week and it would hurt to lose them this week.
This season has been the definition of a roller coaster for Big Blue. Since starting out 0-5 the Giants have won four in a row pushing their record to 5-7. While this may seem like a good thing on the surface it is a bit concerning. This is because we don’t know what version of the team will hit the field each week. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world it can be very disappointing to fans who expect success.
Kliff Kingsberry has done an outstanding job of putting talent around quarterback Kyler Murray. I’ve already mentioned Hopkins and Kirk but they also have running back Kenyan Drake and speedster Andy Isabella. While the offense has cooled down, they looked like they were going to be one of the best units in the league. Kyler Murray was looking like an MVP candidate before his shoulder injury earlier in the season. If Murray can get back to the same form I would find it hard to see a way the Giants win.
Arizona has been great on the ground this year thanks partially to the performance of Kyler Murray. Arizona ranks third in rushing yards per game at right around 150. However, the Cardinals go as Kyler Murray goes and he has struggled mightily in recent games. This shows in the rushing numbers over the last three games they are averaging just over 95 yards per game.
Don’t get me wrong the Cardinals have some solid players in the secondary including Patrick Peterson and Budda Baker but outside of those two, there isn’t much there. Quite frankly Dre Kirkpatrick has been one of the worst defensive backs in all of football and should receive a fair share of targets.
Arizona is by far the worst team at staying disciplined. They take almost a full penalty more than the next team at 7.5 penalties per game. That is slightly lower than the mark of 7.6 per game that they posted last year. This could pose a problem in late-game situations for Arizona. It is something to watch for.
When the dust settles I think it is going to be the team that commits the least penalties will win. These two teams are evenly matched and I think this game is going to show it. I was wrong giving the Giants a loss last week but I feel as though the streak is going to be snapped in a close game. I am predicting a Cardinals victory by the score of 25-23