By Michael Stewart

Introduction:  The New York Giants travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals on Sunday. Eli Manning had his best game of the year last week against the Eagles and will likely start again. Overall, the Giants offense has struggled with key starters out for most of the year and a running game that is only averaging 89 yards per game. On defense, the Giants have surrendered 25.4 points per game; which has been a major disappointment in 2017. The Cardinals lost starter Carlson Palmer weeks ago and have struggled winning only 3 games over their last 8 contests. However; the Cardinals are 4-2 over their last 6 home games, so home cooking suits them well. Quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton have led the team offensively in Palmers absence and he will rely on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to lead the attack. On the ground, the Cardinals are just as bad as the Giants, averaging only 85.4 yards per game.  Defensively, the Cardinals are giving up 24.1 per game, so it appears both teams could put up some points on Sunday.

Top 3 Matchups:

  1. Eli Manning-vs-Cardinals Defense: Manning had his best game of the season last week against the Eagles and he will need to duplicate that against a Cardinals defense that has been playing very well in recent weeks. Hard to win games when your quarterback airs it out 40+ times, but in the Giants case; it could be their only option.
  2. Giants running game-vs-Cardinals running game: Both teams have struggled in the running game with the Giants averaging 89 yards per game and the Cardinals 85.4. Both teams will attempt to utilize the running game into their game plan and whichever team has the most success on the ground could have a tremendous edge in this game.
  3. Giants pass rush-vs-Cardinals pass rush: On paper, the Cardinals have better numbers than the Giants in this department, led by Chandler Jones with 15 sacks. Whoever the Giants plan on blocking Jones better provide him some help, because there is no one on the Giants offensive line that can block Jones one on one successfully. So look for tight end Rhett Ellison to see more playing time and especially lining up on the same side as Jones to be an added blocker.

What to look for:  The Cardinals will look to exploit the Giants secondary early with deep routes. This will accomplish two things: the first if successful; big plays down field. Secondly; it will open up the mid range passing routes to their tight ends and slot receivers. On defense, Cardinals will test the Giants offensive line with different blitz packages and constant pressure on Manning to force him into mistakes. The Giants will once again fail in the running game and look for Manning to air it out 40+ times for the win.  The Giants defense is a mess and even a quarterback like Blaine Gabbert or Drew Stanton could have a big game against them.

Final Score Summary: Both teams had high expectations entering the season, however; injuries and poor play has both teams missing out on the playoffs and possibly selecting in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL draft. Based on current reports, quarterback Drew Stanton will get the start for the Cardinals and maybe that will be enough to jump start the Cardinals offense that has struggled over the last few weeks. Playing home certainly gives the Cardinals an edge in this match as they are 4-2. Combined that with the fact the Giants are 1-5 on road; another helpful fact is that the Cardinals defense since week 10 ranks first overall in fewest yards allowed (264.7), first in pass defense (183.7) and 3rd in run defense (81.0). This game will be decided on the arm of Eli Manning against the Cardinals defense. If Manning can come close to duplicating his performance from last week, the Giants have a shot. If not, the Giants will be a game closer of securing the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Final Score: Cardinals 20/Giants-13