When the New York Giants travel to Glendale to take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, they will look to continue their upward trajectory. The Cardinals are coming off an embarrassing loss to Seattle last weekend, but they play in the NFC West, which means they have a chance to make it to the playoffs with a losing record.
The Giants have had to endure a lot of injuries already this season, particularly on defense, but they knocked around the Eagles last week and are tied for the NFC East lead with a 2-1 record. Eli Manning was fantastic last week and has looked good through three games. He has to be great all season long for this team to have a chance to contend.
The Cardinals are an enigma. They have the talent on offense to at least be fun and competitive against better teams. But Kevin Kolb is still learning how to play quarterback. And defensively, they are still a disaster. They rank 25th in passing yards allowed and 27th in rushing yards allowed.
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
When: Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4:05 p.m. EST
Watch: FOX; DirecTV Channel 713
Listen: KTAR 620 AM, Sirius Channel 149 (Arizona); WFAN 660 AM, Sirius Channel 85 (New York)
Betting Line: Giants (-1.5), Over/Under 44.5
The Giants should be favorites in this game considering how well they have played in their last two weeks and how bad the Cardinals have looked in their last two games. I would make them three-point favorites, but I can understand keeping the away team a very slight favorite.
As for the over/under, I will take the under. The Cardinals offense has not taken off like most of us expected. The Giants have the ability to score a lot of points, but I don't think they will go crazy in this game.
What's At Stake?
The Giants are coming off their best victory of the season against Philadelphia. They can't afford to take their foot off the accelerator in this game, or else they risk falling to the back of the pack in the competitive NFC East.
I am convinced the Cardinals could go on a six-game losing streak and still be the favorites to win the NFC West. I would advise against that, but it is entirely possible. Even if they lose this game, they have to show signs of improvement on offense and defense to prove that they are moving in the right direction.
Giants' Injury Report
Defensive ends Osi Umenyiora (knee) and Justin Tuck (neck/groin) are listed as questionable.
Wide receiver Mario Manningham is questionable after missing last week's game with a concussion.
Rookie cornerback Prince Amukamara is doing football activities and is listed as questionable for this game.
Cardinals' Injury Report
Running back Larod Stephens-Howling is questionable with a hand injury.
Tight end Todd Heap (ribs) is probable for this game.
Fantasy Start 'Em: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona
Despite Kevin Kolb's inconsistencies so far, Larry Fitzgerald is playing like...well, like Larry Fitzgerald. He has 15 catches for 259 yards and two touchdowns through three games, and now he gets to go up against the Giants banged up secondary.
No matter what the team does, Fitzgerald is going to have a monster game. I am not going out on a limb with this pick, but when someone as talented as Fitzgerald has a matchup this good, there's no need to go out on a limb.
Fantasy Sit 'Em: Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Victor Cruz emerged as a fantasy waiver wire darling last weekend with a huge game against Philadelphia. Don't be fooled, people; it's not going to last. The Eagles had several mental lapses in that game that allowed him to get loose and look a lot better than he actually is.
Cruz might get a few catches in this game, but he is not going to average 35 yards per catch or score two touchdowns this week.
Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
Brandon Jacobs only has 29 carries for less than 100 yards on the season, but the Cardinals' run defense is terrible, so I expect both parts of Thunder and Lightning to get a lot of carries this week.
Even if Jacobs doesn't get the yardage that you want from a starting running back, he will get a touchdown or two.
What They Are Saying
Giants defensive end Justin Tuck believes that the victory over the Eagles last weekend will be the start of good things to come for this team this season.
You're human. You think about the injuries. You see 11 guys in the huddle. You believe in those 11 guys, (but) you know sometimes that talent isn't there. For me, personally, (the win) really helped me believe even more in this football team. I do believe in them, and I did before we won. But now, there's no doubt whatsoever. We can beat anybody.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did not have a lot of positives to take away from last week's loss to Seattle, but he did like what he saw from the defense.
Our defense played well, and I still think we're motivated to improve. But as far as being around the ball, putting pressure (on the quarterback) and making some plays, it was a noticeable improvement from our defense.
Giants' Player To Watch: Eli Manning, QB
This team is going to go as far as Eli Manning is going to take them. Last season, he struggled down the stretch and the team missed out on the playoffs.
Manning has played well this season, and the Giants are winning. He should have a big game against a bad Cardinals defense this Sunday. His confidence will continue to grow, and the offense will be better because of it.
Cardinals’ Player To Watch: Kevin Kolb, QB
Not to be obvious by picking both quarterbacks, but they do affect the game more than any other position. Kevin Kolb is still going through some growing pains as he learns to play quarterback in the NFL and in a new system.
Last week, Kolb had to deal with pressure, and he did not respond well. Now he has to go up against a Giants defensive line that is known for its ability to get after the quarterback.
He has to make adjustments and prove that he is capable of checking down when his first or second options aren’t open.
Matchup To Watch: Giants Defensive Line vs. Cardinals Offensive Line
In keeping with the theme that Kevin Kolb has to make adjustments when his first and second options aren’t available, his offensive line has to give him the time to be able to go through his reads so he can determine where he wants to go with the ball.
With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora battling injuries, perhaps things won’t be so bad for Kolb. Then again, if the Seahawks were able to get pressure on him, Umenyiora and Tuck at 75 percent should have no problems.
The Giants have all the momentum in this game, and the Cardinals are still trying to figure out what kind of team they are going to be this season.
Giants 27, Cardinals 17