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Giants-Cardinals Preview: Roundtable

Coming off an embarassing lost to the New Orleans Saints where the Giants got abused on defense, Big Blue is looking forward to coming back home and bouncing back against last year’s N.F.C Champion the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals are well known for their passing attack and dynamic outside weapons, much like the Saints. The potential of the Cardinals offense has Giants fans afraid of another offensive explosion. Will it happen?

I’m not sure. I don’t believe so. First the Cardinals don’t run as effectively as the Saints, which should limit the effectiveness of play action. Second, the Cardinals offensive line doesn’t block as well as the Saints, and thirdly it’s not as easy throwing in Giants stadium as it is in that nice dome down in New Orleans.

Let’s preview the game. I have with me today, Fuchs, Andrew, and Mark.

Let’s start off where everone is worried. I asked the around the table:

Bigger threat in the Cardinals game Fitzgerald or Boldin?
Fitzgerald by far and Boldin is uncertain with a sprained ankle and might not even play which benefits the Giants. 
Fitzgerald. No question. Fitzgerald is easily the best WR in the game. This will be a great test for Corey Webster.

 It all depends upon whether Boldin plays or not, he just recently suffered an ankle injury and missed some practice time. If you’re not used to the pain (a la Bradshaw) then the injury could certainly be a factor. I’ll place my confidence in Larry Fitzgerald to be safe — I’m sure when they look at the Saints tape they’ll realize they should take some shots deep down the field and throw the ball up and have Fitz just go up and get it, right over the Giants flat footed secondary. That’s his game right — he’s a master of the highest point receptions. Bottom line with CC Brown — he needs to bring his run stopping abilities and hard hitting ways to his pass defense this game. The more physical the better

 Fitzgerald exploded onto the scene in the playoffs, but turth be told in terms or yards and touchdowns (2008 Boldin had 11 TD in 12 games, Fitzgerald had 12 TD in 16 games) per game they have been pretty even the past few seasons. This year they are both averaging 10.6 yards per reception and both have over 300 yards receiving.

They play different styles. Fitzgerald will out jump you and out run you. Boldin will yards after catch/contact you to death. You have to be on top of your game for both.

If it’s windy on Sunday I think Boldin could actually have the better day.

One thing the Cardinals have not been able to do is run well, I turned to Mark to see who he thought might play a better role in this game.

Better running back Tim Hightower or Chris “Beanie” Wells?
 Neither but if I had to chose at this point I would say Hightower.  He has a bit more experience under his belt.  They are both averaging a bit over 3 yards per carry but Hightower has found the endzone 3 times and Wells has yet to set foot there. 

I’m actually suprised that Wells hasn’t played more and Im’ not a fan of Hightower. Hightower is good in short yardage, but he averages under 3.0 yards a carry for his career, despite playing in an offense that opens up things with the run.  Beanie Wells could break off a big run if he got the space, very very talented running back.

Something I’m intersted in for this game is the conditions at Giants stadium. I asked Andrew:

How about Kurt Warner’s return to Giants stadium this weekend. Will he be able to throw in the wind?

I think Warner is on his way out… truthfully. I wasn’t surprised at the Cardinals sluggish start to the 2009 season and the one old guy on the football field that garners everyone’s attention this year is Brett Farve, and rightfully so. But never mind the wind, the key to this game will be pressure on Warner because he looks as though he can’t elude any kind of pass rush. If the Giants can blitz effectively and consistently get pressure on him (like the Colts did) I think the Giants will come away with a reinvigorating victory against a team that could very easily pick you apart on offense like New Orleans did.

The only thing that worries me about Kurt Warner in this game is that he might be out to get the team that didn’t believed he had anything left. Football is a very emotional sport and who knows what kind of role that will play. Truth be told though, I wouldn’t mind seeing a windy game which could take the Cardinals out of what they want to do.

If it is windy it might force both teams to run. Suprisingly this year the Cardinals run offense is good statistically for yards per game. The question is that becuase teams are having trouble running on them or becuase teams are finding it too easy to pass on them.

Can the Giants run on the Cardinals..the N.F.L’s #1 overall ranked  run defense heading into Monday Night’s game between the Chargers and Broncos?
 I think so. I think the Giants can run on anyone, quite frankly, and I don’t see why they can’t do it against Arizona. They will have to do a lot of play action, to throw them off balance.

Let’s hope so. I would like to see the Giants do a little more balanced attack this week after getting away from their game plan. The Giants strength is to run early, get ahead early, force teams to pass their way back into it when the Giants know what’s coming. Do what you do to be great, don’t worry about what other teams are doing. I think that’s where the Giants got caught last week.

Speaking of rushing the passer…can the Giants get to Kurt Warner this week.

Kurt Warner’s already taken 10 sacks this season will the Giants be able to get to him this weekend?

Again, thats the key to this game. You know all preseason and camp we heard about different looks on defense — practicing a 5-1-5 scheme and so forth, but we haven’t seen anything like that from the Giants perhaps due to their long list of injuries. But last week when it was clear they weren’t going to win – late in the second half I would have liked to see something different on defense like that to perhaps get more pressure on Brees but have pass protection in place too. Experimentation in an otherwise dismal game. This week there needs to be blitz blitz blitz — and send CC Brown on the hit because he can’t be relied on in coverage.

I have no personal ill well towards C.C. (“cant cover”) Brown and would love to see him man up and shut people up this weekend.

Like I said the Cardinals defense isn’t playing at the level they were in the playoffs, but they aren’t a terrible defense either.

Who are you most worried about on the Cardinals defense this weekend?
Darnell Docket is the best defensive player on the Cardinals. He completely took over some of those games in the playoffs. The Giants would be wise to keep him out of the backfield this upcoming weekend.

I also like Adrian Wilson one of the most gifted physical specimens in the league. I hope he doesn’t make an incredible play this weekend. Speaking of Adrian Wilson and the Arizona Secondary…

Will the Giants be able to pass on the Cardinals in Giants stadium this weekend. Arizona, heading into Week 6’s Monday Night Game is 31st in the league vs the pass.

Yes — but what gets me about the Giants is they have so many weapons at their disposal and can spread the ball around with the best of them… but so often the scheme becomes too one dimensional. When the Giants are at their best they are throwing all kinds of short passes to accompany their rushing attack and deep passing plays — I want to see the screens, quick slants, dump offs… thats what consistently keeps the chains moving into the redzone and mixes things up for the defense. My critique of the offense last week was that the repeated deep risks ALMOST paid off but in the end they failed — and we saw the Giants get away from their tried and true offense of running the ball mixed in with short passes – sadly it led to several 3 and outs. Don’t get me wrong — I love the ballsy 3rd and short deep ball down the right sideline but after the 4th time coming up empty and it brings up another punt… it’s time to get back to basics which for the Giants are running the football and utilizing short passes.

Beautifully said. The thing people liked about the Giants heading into the season was their versatility. Mario Manningham is elusive, Steve Smith the ultimate possession Wide Receiver, Hakeem Nicks is a big guy and great with the ball in his hands after the catch, Domenik Hixon has  straight line speed. Travis Beckukm is suppose to work underneath. I don’t think the Giants have showcased that enough this season and would like to see a little more versatility in the passing game, although there have been flahes of brillance in that area.

With the return of Domenik Hixon to the return game the Giants have an advantage on special teams on most weekends, however, the Cardinals also have a dangerous return man in Steve Brason. I turned to F uchs:

Better return man Domenik Hixon or Steve Breaston?

Yo Hixon, you’re a good returner, and I’ma let you finish, but Steve Breaston is the best returner OF ALL TIME!!! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Breaston is better. He’s done it for longer, but it was good to see Hixon back out there.)

 I miss the joke about Breaston, but I agree that Breaston has been more consistent in the return game although I think Domenik Hixon is wonderful back there and if he was given the opportunity to be a full time return man for an entire season that he could really showcase his value.

We’ve discussed important issues regarding both teams passing games and running games as well as the return games so I turned to Mark and Fuchs to ask them the X-factor in this weekend’s game.
X-Factor for the Cardinals this weekend?
 The Cards offensive line.  If they can keep Warner on his feet and the Giants pressure contained they could be trouble.  The pass coverage was abused this past weekend and I am sure other teams will pay attention to what the Saints did. 

 Corey Webster. If he slows down Fitzgerald (because you won’t be able to stop him), that will go a long way for the Giants.

My X-Factor is Eli Manning. I always expect him to play well, but what I’m looking forward this weekend is a better tempo for the offense than they had last weekend. Eli Manning’s biggest strength his is cerebral approach to the game and clock management that’s something I look for in this weekend’s matchup.

Anything else to add…?
 The Giants better get healthy in the defensive backfield soon.  When Ross returns I could see giving Terrell Thomas a shot at safety even if it is short term.  C.C. Brown was terrible in the Saints game.  I hope Sheridan realizes that sometimes a blitz is neccessary.  Drew Brees had all day back there and he took advantage making the Giants look silly.


 I want to see the Giant run early — pound it in the endzone and eclipse the Arizona’s league leading rushing defense in the first quarter like they did last year with Baltimore. Then I want so see the Giants open up the passing attack bringing things back into balance. If the Giants get into rhythm early like they so often do on the first drive, I’ll feel a whole lot better about letting last week’s effort go from my mind.

I think the Giants have the psychological edge heading into this game. They just game off a beating courtesy of the Saints, there are people doubting their ability to play defense by constantly bringing up the running clinic Dallas put on them and the passing clinic the Saints deployed against the Giants. And the Giants have done a great job of keeping loses isolated for the most part. I expect a terrific effort this weekend for the Giants that hopefully leads to a win.



Final prediction for the Giants-Cardinals game?

31-24 Giants
like the Giants in this one. You know they are going to come out hard. Final score: Giants 24, Cards 14

Giants are looking to bounce back and the Cardinals are traveling across the country and playing an early game.  Giants 24 Cardinals 14

Something I haven’t talked about yet is Arizona futility in road games where they are 5-13 since 2007. With four of those wins coming in their own divison.

Basically the Arizona cardinals are awful away from their home stadium. The Giants meanwhile are good at home having won 9 of their last 10 home games.

The Giants are coming off a difficult loss and they are a proud team.

And the Giants measure up well in the tale of the tape (bolded team has the better overall unit).

Quarterback: Manning Vs Warner

Running Back: Jacobs/Bradshaw Vs Wells/Hightower

OL: Giants vs Cardinals

Defensive Line: Tuck, Umeinyora, Kiwianuak, Robbins Coefield Vs Dockett, Robinson, Calais Campbell

Linebackers: Pierce, Blackburn, Clark Vs Dansby, Okafor, Hayes, Clark haggins.  Can I chose nobody? Neither unit is impressive slight edge to Cardinals. Clear edge to Giants if Boley and Sintim are available.

Cornerbacks: Webster, Thomas, Johnson, Dockery Vs. Cromartie, mcFadden, Brown, Adams.

Safeties: Johnson, Brown, Rouse vs Wilson, Rolle, Ware

Special Teams:  Tynes, Feagles, Hixon (and tackling units) vs Rackers, Graham, LaRod Stephens Howling (doing most kick off return this year), Breaston (punt returns), and tackling units.

Coach: Coughlin Vs Wisenhunt


The Giatns are the better team, they are playing a team that struggles mightily on the road, they are playing a quarterback who is nearing 200 years old, at night in conditions that might be cold. They have a more versatile offense (and are scoring more points per game), and a more proven, albeit beaten up defense.
I like the Giants here and I like them kind of big actually.

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12 Responses to “Giants-Cardinals Preview: Roundtable”

  1. andrew ilnicki says:

    You said

    “Suprisingly this year the Cardinals run offense is good statistically for yards per game. The question is that because teams are having trouble running on them or because teams are finding it too easy to pass on them.”

    Right — no one is running on the Cards… so that stat doesn’t mean they have a great run defense. It’s misleading.

    The Giants should be able to run circles around the Cards this weekend, hopefully they will for the home crowd.

    • ek says:

      49ers tried to run on the cards. gore had something like 24 carries for 23 yards

      • Andrew Ilnicki says:

        what did bradshaw and ward have last time they met? 90 yards and a touchdown and that was without Jacobs.

        so its possible to run on the cards… leave it to the Giants to show you the way

  2. andrew ilnicki says:

    That was a Kanye West impression by the way. Not sure why it came out two months late but…. that was the joke you didn’t get about Hixon.

  3. luke says:

    pressure pressure pressure, warner cant get away from the pass rush and he is horrible under pressure. If we give him time fitz and boldin (if he plays) will find ways to get open since they are both very capable receivers. Not worried about the runningbacks for the cards but pressure is essential on warner

  4. […] question was brought up in our roundtable, and I botched a Kanye joke trying to answer it (hey I’m a blogger, not a comedian.): […]

  5. ek says:

    not sure i’d give the giants the edge on special teams. rackers is very accurate and is very effective at on-side/pooch kicks. did you see the pooch kick we recovered in 1st quarter of the seattle game last week? also, graham is exceptional at putting the ball inside the 20, as well as deep punts with lots of hang town. and obviously you know about breaston’s ability.

    • Andrew Ilnicki says:

      the coverage from the Giants is very physical and very good as well.

      as big blue wet blanket getting dragged behind a bulldozer.

  6. Júlio César says:

    also think that the cards have some edge on special teams… returning and punting units are very good on both teams, but tynes is the perfect fit for the word “inconsistency”

    • Julio Cesar and EK.

      I broke the Special teams down like this:

      Cardinals Rakers is better

      Giants I like Feagles more.

      Breason and Hixon are pretty even to me on punt returns,

      however this year Hixon is returning kicks and breason is not. Edge Giants.

      I like the Giants coverage units as well. i dont enough bout AZ coverage units

      • andrew ilnicki says:

        giants coverage is great. feagles is the best ever. hixon is as dangerous a return man as there is.

        nuff said.

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