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2014 Regular Season
Preview: Cards @ Giants

Setting the Stage:
Late Breaking - Cardinal fans received a scare from a Friday injury report listing Carson Palmer (right shoulder) as "questionable," but D. Urban advises that this should not be "cause for concern" (i.e. he's rested it in practice before, and followed this with a lights out performance the following Sunday. According to Coach Arians: "It's a nerve thing...Sometimes at his age, it's good not to throw in practice.").

Both the Giants and the Cardinals played Monday night (the Giants had the early game; Cards KO was at 10:30 pm ET). Giants got blown out by Detroit. Cards came from behind to win a squeaker over San Diego. Cards were feeling good about themselves/Giants weren't. That all changed somewhat for the Cardinals upon receiving news that their star pass rush specialist and veteran leader, John Abraham was contemplating retirement. Cards need this win; their remaining schedule doesn't get any easier. Giants' confidence seems shaky. (A skeptical local media doesn't help). But Coughlin has brought his teams back from the depths in the past.

Last Game

Giants were waxed by the Lions 35 - 14. Cards came back in the 4Q to edge the Chargers 18 - 17. The Giant defense allowed an improvising Matthew Stafford to complete 22 of 32 passes for 346 yards. By contrast, Giant QB Eli Manning was held to 18 for 33 and 163 yards. Head coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged that the Giants played poorly in most aspects of the game and that "we don't have a lot to be proud of", characterizing it as a "nightmare performance."

First Quarter

  • On the 4th play of the first Detroit possession, two Giant DB's ran into one another, allowing a wide-open Megatron to beat them deep for a 67 yard TD.

  • After going 3 & out, the Giants gave up a 9 play (5:35) TD drive with Megatron once again catching a TD pass- this one for 16-yards.

  • The 2 teams exchanged possessions and the Giants finally mounting a 13-play (4:56) drive that extended into the next quarter.

First Quarter Score: Lions 14 - Giants 0.

Second Quarter

  • Benefitting from 3 costly Lion penalties, Manning managed to lead his offense to the Detroit 1-yard line, where he completed a 4th-down TD pass to his TE (Pay attention, Mr. Bowles!) Donnell.

  • The two teams exchanged possessions and the Lions were able to get in field goal range the next time they got the ball. But Freese was wide left. Giants took over with 1:55 left till halftime, but were unable to move into Lion territory and surrendered the ball just before halftime.

First Half Score: Detroit 14 - Giants 7.

Third Quarter

  • On the third play of the opening Giant possession, Manning's pass was intercepted. Lions had to settle for a 28-yard FG.

  • Giants went 3 & out. Detroit was able to move to the Giant 9 before settling for a 27-yard FG.

  • On the first play of the next Giant possession, Manning's pass for Cruz was picked off. 5 plays later, Stafford scrambled in for a 5-yard score.

  • Manning then led his offense on a 14-play (6:58) scoring drive that extended into the 4th quarter.

Third Quarter Score: Lions 27 - Giants 7.

Fourth Quarter

  • Giant drive was capped by a one-yard TD run by Jennings. 11:53 left to play...

  • Lions chewed off 7:14 off the clock on a 12-play TD drive resulting in a 3-yard TD run by Bell. 2-pointer was good.

  • 4:39 left...Giants ran off 5 plays before turning the ball over on downs. Knee-time...Game over.

Final Score: Detroit 35 - Giants 14.

What the Game Stats Tell Us

  • Giants gained 53 yards on 22 carries. Jennings carried 16 times for 46 yards.

  • Donnell led Giant receivers with 5 catches, followed by Jennings and Jernigan with 4 apiece. (Cruz caught 2). Longest gain through the air was 21-yard completion to Jennings.

  • Manning was picked off 2 times and sacked twice.

  • Stevie Brown led all Giant tacklers with 9 followed by Amukamara (8) and J Williams (7)

  • Giants had zero interceptions. Ayers is credited with the only Giant sack.

  • Giants were 3 for 13 on 3rd downs. By contrast, the Lions were 10 for 15.

  • Giant offense netted 197 yards (vs. 417 by Lions).

  • Giants were only penalized 4 times (half as many times as the Lions).

  • No fumbles lost by either team.

  • Giant Rushing Plays: 22/Passing Plays: 35.

  • Time of Possession: Giants 23:56/Lions 36:04

Rosters/Match-ups

Giant Offense

WR1     82 Randle     13 Beckham Jr.               
LT         65 Beatty      71 C. Brown                  
LG        70 Richburg  61 D. R'yn'lds  68 Snyder              
C          55 Walton             
RG       75 Mosley     77 Jerry          
RT        67 Pugh       73 Brewer                  
TE        84 Donnell      85 D. Fells       81 Robinson                  
FB        45 Hynoski                     
WR2     80 Cruz       12 Jernigan      83 Parker   88 C Washington                      
QB       10 Manning  09 Nassib                  
RB       23 Jennings 44 A. Williams  33 Hillis

Cardinal Defense

DE        93 Campbell    96 K,Martin       95 Kelly
NT        92 D. Williams 66 Ta'amu                     
DT        98 Rucker       72 Stinson                    
SLB      91 Sh'ghnssy 94 S. Acho       53 Keiser          
ILB       50 Foote         54 Demens              
ILB       51 Minter        56 Carson                     
WLB     59 Benard      57 Okafor          97 Alexander     
LCB      21 Peterson    28 Bethel                      
RCB     31 Cromartie    25 Powers                     
SS        22 Jefferson     36 Bucannon                 
FS        32 Mathieu       26 R. Johnson 
  

Matchup: Giant Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Mastering the nuances of the new Giant west coast offense is a work in progress, with the fallout of the Detroit loss resulting in a "throw it more to me" attitude among Cruz and other Giant receivers. Cruz, Randle, Beckham and Jernigan are all capable receivers but (with, perhaps, the exception of Cruz) can hardly be categorized as an elite unit. Interior of the Giant line has been struggling and could be vulnerable to a Cardinal inside pass rush that, although they netted no sacks, gave Rivers headaches a week ago. Although the Card pass defense did show some improvement covering the two elite Charger TE's, the Cardinals should be especially wary of the Manning - Donnell connection. .

Key Matchup: Cardinal safeties and LB's vs. Donnell.

Matchup: Giant Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Giant running attack only gained 53 yards last week (close to the yardage the highly-rated Cardinal run defense gave up vs. Chargers). Ryan Matthews did torch Tony Jefferson and the Cardinal run defenders on a 20-yard one-cut TD run last week. An important Tom Coughlin MO: When he feels cornered, he'll typically revert to a physical, smashmouth offensive strategy (the theory being - if you can dominate your opponent physically on offense, the other nuancy aspects of the game (like schemes, matchups etc.) don't matter as much. So don't be shocked if the Giants come out with two TE's or run Jennings between the tackles a lot behind Hynoski.

Key Matchup: Jennings vs. Buchannon


Cardinal Offense

WR1     11 Fitzgerald, 19 Ginn, 13 John Brown   
LT         68 Veldheer, 79 Sowell                      
LG        62 Larsen, 61 Cooper                     
C          63 Sendlein, 62 Larsen                     
RG       74 Fanaika,  78 Watford                   
RT        70 Massie, 79 Sowell                      
TE        87 Niklas, 85 Fells            
WR2     15 M. Floyd, 13 Jaron Brown              
QB        03 Palmer, 05 Stanton 06 Thomas        
RB        38 Ellington, 30 Taylor, 20 Dwyer, 39 Hughes
TE        89 Carlson, 84 Housler

Giant Defense

LDE      94 Kiwanuka     91 Ayres 72 Wynn             
LDT      99 C. Jenkins    96 Bromley                
RDT     95 Hankins        93 M. Patterson 78 Kuhn                  
RDE     90 Pierre Paul    98 D. Moore         
SLB     59 Kennard                     
MLB    53 J. McClain    58 Herzlich 52 Beason                     
WLB    57 J. Williams   54 Paysinger               
LCB     21 DRC            38 McBride       31 Bowman  
RCB    20 Amukamara 24 Thurmond III             
FS       27 S. Brown      35 Demps                    
SS       26 Rolle            34 Berhe
       

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Charger Pass Defense
Carson Palmer's right shoulder issue (dismissed by BA as simply "a nerve thing") is said to not be cause for concern (but as a nervous Cardinal fan, consider me concerned). Giants have a few guys who can get after the passer (in Kiwanuka, Pierre Paul and Ayres). Pierr Paul is nicked up. So too may be Kiwanuka. The Giant starting secondary (DRC, Amukamara, S Brown and Rolle) looked good on paper but blew at least a couple of coverages big time and got shredded by Stafford. Whether they have much backup depth and talent figures to be challenged by Cardinal 4 and even 5 -receiver sets (&/or greater involvement by Cardinal RB's and our TE's. The Cardinal OL had a bit of trouble communicating dealing with crowd-noise (from, of all things, the home crowd). While, by and large, they played a sound game, there were more occasional mental and physical breakdowns than you'd want or expect there to be on a playoff-bound offensive line. Palmer used his legs more than (either he or the fans) expected, in order to buy more time when under pressure. The tactic seemed to work (certainly better than when he'd either hurry his throws or get hit in the pocket). Potential problem here is durability. (i.e. we hope he errs on the side of caution).

Key Matchup: Ayers vs, Veldheer. Palmer's shoulder vs. Giant secondary,

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Giant Run Defense
Giant run-defense only surrendered 76 net rushing yards vs. the Lions. Cardinal runners, while not having a spectacular game, were able to get the job done - whether it be Ellington popping through for 1- 15 yards or Taylor picking up a crucial 7 yards up the middle to ice the game. Prediction: Cards will try to establish a running attack (if for no other reason than to establish play action). Giants will try to stop them.

Key Matchup: I think it will be Dwyer and Taylor between the tackles vs. McClain, Hankins and c. Jenkins. (Ellington will see more action this week in the passing game

Special Teams

Giants

P          05 Weatherford                               
K          03 J. Brown                                 
H          05 Weatherford         
LS        51 DeOssie                                   
KR        35 Demps 83 Parker 12 Jernigan                              
PR        83 Parker  82 Randle 12 Jernigan

Cardinals

K          07 Catanzaro                             
P          09 Zastudil, 02 Butler                                
H          09 Zastudil                                
LS        82 Leach                                  
KR        19 Ginn             12 John Brown               
PR        19 Ginn             21 Peterson        12 John Brown

Matchup: Giant Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Zastudil (groin or hammy) was injured and replaced by Butler last week. Butler's punting appeared to be sound, but his apparent inability to get the ball off quickly resulted in a blocked punt that could have proved disasterous. Although Butler has served as holder in previous NFL duty, Zastudil was still available to handle these duties as well. Giant special teams seem to be competent though unspectacular. Ginn has to make better decisions about returning deep KO's or downing them in the end zone (He typically got no further than our own 15-yard line). Catanzaro's foot was definitely stronger than Feely's and consistently went through the EZ; thereby eliminating the threat of a long return. Card coverage teams were uncharacteristically lethargic last week.

Key matchups: Ginn vs. Giant coverage teams.

Coaching
Coughlin has to raise Giant spirits during a period when they are transitioning to a new offense. BA has to keep the Cards focused, humble and poised (especially in light of all the personnel departures on defense). In the past, when Coughlin has felt cornered, he's "gone back to basics" - resorting to a more physical "smashmouth" approach to the game. Don't be surprised if he doesn't try to jam the ball down our throats between the tackles behind a lot of straight-ahead double-team blocking. (Cards had better bring their big-boy pants to MetLife stadium). Expect Coach Arians to focus on our "keeping on doing what we're doing", meeting the Giants' physicality head-on and exploiting mismatches while cleaning up a few areas of shaky production.

Last Word
Cards can build on the experience of their come-from behind win." Giants have to have short memories. I feel good about most of our matchups, but that carries with it the assumption that we'll play hard and maintain our poise for the entire 60-minutes. We play on the road in the northeast, but may have caught a break if Giant fans decide to take their frustrations out on the home team should things not go OK early.


 
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 03/25/2013