Saturday, October 1, 2011

InReeseWeTrust New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals Week 4 Game Preview


New York Giants (2-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2), 4:05 eastern at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
By Ben Kelly - InReeseWeTrust.com 10/1/11

What happened last week?
Arizona lost 13-10 to the previously winless Seattle Seahawks, giving both teams a 1-2 record in the NFC West. Cardinals’ receiver Larry Fitzgerald torched Seattle in the first half for 64 yards and a touchdown, but was held without a second half reception for the eighth time in his career. The Cardinals’ rushing attack was limited by the absence of two key runners, Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Both backs will play against the Giants, returning after the Cardinals’ lowest rushing output of the season at 90 yards. Wells averaged 91.5 yards in his first two contests this year. Throwing the ball for Arizona this year is former Eagles’ back up Kevin Kolb, who threw for 252 yards on 39 attempts and two picks last week. Seattle intercepted his final pass with 1:04 left in the game to seal the victory.

The Giants like playing in Arizona
New York is 2-0 in their last two visits to Glendale, coming away with a 37-29 beating of the Cardinals in 2008 and a Super Bowl ring. The Super Bowl Giants beat the Patriots in Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium, and the current bulk of Giants players will always remember the cloud of confetti pouring down from the stadium rafters in the 17-14 victory. The 2011 Cardinals do not match up well with the Giants’ last two Arizona opponents; the Patriots were 18-0 and 2008 Cardinals went on to represent the NFC in the 2008 Super Bowl, losing to Pittsburgh on the Steelers’ final drive.  

What you need to know about the 2011 Cardinals
The Cardinals offense had its most success last week running the no-huddle offense, completing all six pass attempts from the no huddle on their lone touchdown drive. Kolb’s offense will be bolstered by the return of two running backs, including star tailback Beanie Wells, but Arizona’s defense has its holes, squandering second-half leads in consecutive losses. Arizona’s win came in the first week against the Carolina in Cam Newton’s rookie debut record of passing for 403 yards. Since then, Arizona limited its passing yards against to under 300 per game, including just 139 to Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle. The greater concern is Arizona’s run defense in its two losses. Arizona gave up 172 yards on the ground to the Redskins in week two (the Giants allowed 74 to the Redskins a week earlier) and more than doubled the Seahawks season total rush yards (95 combined in its first two weeks) with 122 gained.  Turnovers have also played a big role in Arizona’s two losses. Both losses featured late turnovers when the team had a chance to win or tie- a fumble by wide receiver Chansi Stuckey in week two and the Kolb interception last week.

Predictions
The key to a Giants win is keeping the Cardinals offense out of rhythm running the no-huddle. The Giants are capable of grinding long drives behind Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, but all four touchdown drives against Philadelphia were under four and a half minutes. Explosive touchdown drives will be needed against an Arizona red zone defense that has allowed just four touchdowns in eleven visits this season. Arizona is also strong in special teams play, returning one kick for 51 yards an 89-yard punt return touchdown by first round rookie Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals have an edge in red zone defense and special teams, but the team that wins the turnover battle will win the game. The Giants are plus-4 on turnovers. The Cardinals are minus-1, including two critical game sealers in two losses. New York will escape Arizona, 23-21.  

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