CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Getty)
The Arizona Cardinals face a stern test this Sunday, as they welcome the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. With a bruising running game and a tenacious pass rush, the Giants’ possess all the ingredients to slow down a surging Cardinals team. Brad Wilbricht previews this week’s matchup between division leaders and breaks down New York’s roster.
Two of the hottest teams in the NFC face off this week as the New York Giants have won five consecutive games and the Arizona Cardinals have prevailed in three straight contests. Although the Cardinals’ potent offensive attack receives a great deal of notoriety, the Giants’ offense has been even more productive. Through the first 10 games of the season, New York has racked up 292 points while Arizona has scored 289 points.
QB Eli Manning continues his unspectacular yet steady performance. Manning has thrown for 2,079 yards and is completing just over 60 percent of his passes. Furthermore, he’s tossed 15 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions and is maintaining a QB rating of 87.6. Manning got off to a fast start throwing for 200-plus yards in the Giants’ first four games, but has failed to reach 200 yards passing in each of his last six outings.
Led by RB Brandon Jacobs, the focal point of the Giants’ offense has been their running game. Jacobs has rushed for 879 yards on 5.4 yards per carry and has tacked on 11 touchdowns. Backups Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw have also been effective when called upon as Ward has compiled 531 yards rushing and Bradshaw is averaging a team leading 6.7 yards per carry.
While Jacobs has been a force to be reckoned with this season, the Cardinals may be catching him at an opportune time. Jacobs is nursing a knee injury and could be held out of this week’s game in Arizona. However, even without their powerful running back, New York’s rushing attack has proved to be more than capable with Ward and Bradshaw in the backfield.
Given the Cardinals’ injury riddled secondary, Manning and the Giants’ receiving corps could play a major role on Sunday. WR Plaxico Burress has been relatively quiet this year, but has still managed 35 receptions for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Despite his sluggish start, Burress could be poised for a breakout game in the same building where he caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII.
WR Plaxico Burress
In addition to Burress, wide receivers Amani Toomer and Steve Smith have been reliable targets for Manning. Toomer is currently second on the team with 365 receiving yards while Smith has reeled in 37 passes for 357 yards.
TE Kevin Boss has been a tremendous red-zone target and has helped the Giants faithful quickly forget about the departure of Jeremy Shockey. Boss has developed an excellent rapport with Manning and has 19 catches for 217 yards and four scores.
On defense, the Giants feature one the fiercest pass rushing units in the NFL. Justin Tuck currently leads New York with 8.5 sacks while Mathias Kiwanuka is second with 6.5 sacks. As a team, the Giants are second in the NFC with 31 sacks on the season. The Cardinals’ offensive line will have its hands full all afternoon and must provide QB Kurt Warner with ample time in the pocket.
New York’s ball-hawking secondary has reaped the benefits of the team’s pass rushing abilities and is second in the NFC with 14 interceptions. Corey Webster leads the Giants with three interceptions and has also deflected 15 passes. Aaron Ross, Michael Johnson and James Butler have all picked off two passes each.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com