Neither team has set the NFL world afire thus far, but the football Giants have already notched a win over the NFC East-rival Philadelphia Eagles. That means the 2-1 squad is still directly in the thick of what looks to be an ultra-competitive division despite the season-opening loss to a fellow NFC East inhabitant, the Washington Redskins.
On the other hand, the Redbirds have stumbled to a 1-2 record out of the gates.
But Arizona's in the NFC West, where the juggernaut San Francisco 49ers are currently pacing the division at 2-1. No team that hands its reins to Alex Smith is a real threat to run away with the division, so there's a very good chance the Cardinals will be right in the middle of the playoff picture by season's end.
Granted, both teams are doing their best to discredit those postseason perceptions so far in their game as an ugly first 24 minutes has mercifully come to a close.
Here are five adjustments the Giants can make to clean up their collective act and escape with the W:
1. Match Arizona's Sense of Urgency on Both Sides of the Ball
The New York defense did its part in the first half—applying constant pressure to Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb, effectively killing the passing game, and doing the same to the running game by clamping down on any running lanes
Totally different story, as the Cardinal defense is flying around the field and disrupting any momentary offensive flow the Giants have managed to establish. The G-Men are going to have to play with the same ferocity on both sides to get the victory.
2. Hold onto the Ball
Is it cheating to always mention cutting out the turnovers as a key second half adjustment?
I say not because, as long as a team is handing the ball to the other team, it's a critical thing to stop. New York running back Ahmad Bradshaw gifted three points to Arizona by fumbling deep in his own territory. Can't do that in the NFL, especially on the road.
3. Stay with the Running Game
The Arizona Cardinals have never been notorious run stoppers, and things don't appear to be any different in 2011. Until Bradshaw broke through for a 13-yard touchdown in the closing minutes of the half, the Cardinals had actually been doing an excellent job against the NY running game.
But that doesn't figure to last against the bruising backs featured by the G-Men.
So long as New York keeps handing off the ball.
4. Get the Rock To Victor Cruz
You could accuse me of being biased since I picked up Cruz on one of my fantasy teams, but I'm not starting him so a big day from him would do me no good. No, I say get Victor the ball because he's one of those guys who always seems to be a shoelace or a turf-monster away from breaking off a huge gain.
As hard as points have been to come by in the first half, one big play could be all it takes to get the win.
5. Don't Let Larry Fitzgerald Beat You
Simply put, Fitzgerald is the best player on the football field, which means he's definitely the best Arizona Cardinal on the gridiron. Fitz is one of those talents that's impossible to stop, but even so, you CANNOT let him beat you in big spots.
Like, say, 4th-and-1...or 3rd-and-long.
Leapin' Larry will get his numbers, but the Giants must press him at the line and provide safety help over the top or do whatever else is necessary to take him out of the equation in huge spots.
That will leave them exposed elsewhere, but that's the price you pay to take away the first option when it's as good as Fitzgerald is.