Giants Week 14 Opponent Preview | Arizona
As rookies, Kyler Murray got the edge over Daniel Jones in their first meeting between the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2019 draft.
Murray, the first-overall pick, outdueled sixth-overall pick Jones in a 27-21 Cardinals victory at MetLife Stadium last season, as Murray went on to claim Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
But more importantly, that game exposed the Giants’ weaknesses on both sides of the ball. Jones absorbed eight sacks, some due to leaky pass protection and some due to him holding onto the ball too long.
Meanwhile, the Giants defense had zero answers for containing Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, which recorded 156 yards on the ground, the most rushing yards allowed by the Giants defense last year.
The good news, if there was any, is that Giants defense also allowed 89 net passing yards to Murray, who didn’t throw any touchdowns last year. But that was likely more due to the success Arizona was having running the ball down the Giants throats more than anything.
That was all before the Cardinals went out and improved on both sides of the ball. They acquired receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans in exchange for running back David Johnson. Hopkins will pair with the legendary Larry Fitzgerald to increase Murray’s passing options.
And on defense, the Cardinals added the player a lot of Giants fans wished for in the draft, that being linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
The Giants have made upgrades to their team as well, probably the most important offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, who should be one of the five starters this year on the offensive line.
On defense, they added rookie Xavier McKinney and potential slot cornerback Darnay Holmes. However, there are still questions regarding the pass rush and if the Giants have enough speed on defense to keep up with Murray and company.
By The Numbers
- Giants lead all-time series 80-45-2
- Since 1970 NFL-AFL merger Giants lead series 40-30
- Since 2000 Giants lead series 7-6
- First Meeting: November 7, 1926, Cardinals 0 at Giants 20
- Last Meeting: October 20, 2019, Cardinals 27 at Giants 21
- Largest Giants margin of victory: December 7, 1969, Cardinals 6 at Giants 49
- Largest Cardinals margin of victory: October 31, 1977, Giants 0 at Cardinals 28
Key Matchup: Giants rushing offense vs. Cardinals run defense
Aside from Hopkins, the Cardinals' most significant offseason additions were to their defensive front seven. Arizona signed former Bills defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, former Giant and Lions linebacker Devon Kennard, and former Falcons linebacker De'Vondre Campbell in free agency.
In the draft, the Cardinals drafted Clemson's do-it-all star linebacker Isaiah Simmons with their first-round pick. They spent two fourth-round picks on a pair of defensive tackles in Utah's Leki Fotu and LSU's Rashard Lawrence.
Giants running back Saquon Barkley and the offensive line will face a completely re-tooled defensive front from the one that finished 24th in run defense in 2019, but Barkley will take on the challenge in better form than in last season's matchup.
The Week 7 contest against the Cardinals last year was Barkley's first game back from an ankle injury. While he later admitted that he wasn't fully healed at that point, Barkley still managed to rack up 72 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown, a solid day's worth of work which unfortunately didn't help in balancing the offense.
The Giants ran 47 pass plays to just 18 run plays, with Jones absorbing eight sacks. If Barkley can stay healthy by Week 14 and the Giants can strike a better balance to where they don't need to be one dimensional, that will go a long way toward keeping the Cardinals; new-look defensive front honest.