By Curt Macysyn
Maybe the Giants should be thankful that their season opener was played on Monday night. That would make for one less day to view game film from their sloppy effort in losing to the Detroit Lions 35-14 at Ford Field. This week, the G-men play host to the Arizona Cardinals, who held off the San Diego Chargers 18-17 in Phoenix on Monday. The Giants had match-up problems all game against the Lions’ Calvin Johnson, and now they face another top rung receiver in Larry Fitzgerald.
In addition, Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning had a difficult time taking advantage of a pedestrian Detroit secondary, and now he faces Patrick Peterson, one of the best cornerbacks in the game. With the San Francisco 49ers looming ahead for the Cardinals in week three, the Giants should hope that this week becomes a trap game for Arizona.
It would be unfair to say Carson Palmer has found new life in Arizona. The 34-year old signal caller spent two ill-fated years with the Oakland Raiders after playing his first seven years with the team that drafted him, the Cincinnati Bengals. But Palmer has a career completion percentage of 62.6 percent and has never completed less than 60 percent of his passes when he has played in ten or more games. Conversely, Giants’ QB Eli Manning’s career completion percentage is 58.5 percent. Also, throw in the fact that Palmer has thrown for more than 34,000 yards in his NFL career, and it becomes evident that he is vastly under-appreciated.
Against the Chargers on Monday night, the veteran from the University of Southern California threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns.Strangely enough, however, Palmer had only one completion to superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald for a mere four yards. The Giants’ new look secondary was torched by the Lions’ dynamic combination of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for 164 yards in the air and two scores. The G-men should expect a heavy dose of Fitzgerald on Sunday.
Fitzgerald’s teammate, Michael Floyd, picked up the slack in the receiving game with 119 yards on five catches. The Cards also have rookie John Brown and Ted Ginn, Jr. in the fold. Brown caught a touchdown pass on Monday, as did running back Stepfan Taylor. Arizona’s starting tailback, Andre Ellington, only had 53 yards on the ground, but caught five passes out of the backfield.
The Giants had difficulty with Matthew Stafford’s mobility, and Carson Palmer also moved effectively against the Chargers, who boast a more athletic front four than what the Giants currently offer.
The ongoing war of words and actions, about who should be called the league’s best cornerback, between the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman and the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson is fun to watch. Regardless of which player you choose, one thing remains certain, the Giants’ receiving corps appears to be ill-prepared to compete with either at this point. The league and fans cannot judge either player by his statistics, because offenses are now avoiding these guys. Peterson had one tackle in Monday night’s win, and it seems doubtful that the Giants’ offense will be challenging Peterson very much on Sunday.
The Cardinals’ other cornerback is Antonio Cromartie, who is very familiar with MetLife Stadium, having played for the New York Jets for the past four years. Cromartie is a good defender in his own right, and he once intercepted ten passes for the San Diego Chargers in his second year in the league.
The Giants may catch a break in Tyrann Mathieu, star safety for the Cards, who missed the Chargers’ game and is likely out again with a knee injury. Rashad Johnson took Mathieu’s place in the lineup and contributed five tackles in the game.
The Cardinals pass rush is not what it once was, but any defensive line will be a test for this Giants’ offensive line. John Abraham remains the team’s top pass rusher with 11.5 sacks in 16 games last season. Abraham left the game against the Chargers with a possible concussion, a situation that bears watching this week. Even at 36-years old, Abraham has become irreplaceable in the Cardinal’s front seven.
The New York Giants lead the all-time series between the two teams with an 80-42-2 record that dates back to 1926, when the franchise was the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals are only one of two NFL charter franchises (Chicago Bears) that date back to when the league was founded in 1920. The franchise itself came into existence in 1898, and it is the oldest continually run football club in the United States.
The Cardinals played in Chicago for forty years from 1920 through 1959, when they moved to St. Louis for a 27-year tenure starting in 1960. In 1988, owner Bill Bidwell moved the club to the Phoenix area (Tempe, Ariz.) to play at Arizona State University temporarily. The team has only made the NFL playoffs eight times in its long history.
Bruce Arians is in his second season as head coach and led the team to a 10-6 record last year. Arians, who was born in Paterson, N.J., was the 2012 AP Coach of the Year after he garnered a 9-3 record as interim coach of the Indianapolis Colts while Chuck Pagano battled leukemia.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on aExaminer.com.