Although both the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants feature dynamic passing games, this Sunday’s matchup in New York will likely be determined on the ground. The Cardinals boast the league’s top run defense allowing less than 60 yards per game while New York’s hard-nosed approach in the running game is accumulating 148 yards per outing.
Unfortunately for Arizona, the Giants have the luxury of a much more balanced offensive attack. While New York has gained nearly 150 yards per game rushing, it’s still managed to throw for 254 yards per game through the air. On the flip side, the Cardinals remain one dimensional as their running game has averaged a miniscule 58 yards per contest thus far.
Sure, Arizona’s statistics against the run look awfully gaudy but looking deeper inside the numbers may prove differently. The Cardinals have lined up against two pass happy offenses, namely the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans and jumped out to early leads against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks which neutralized each team’s running game.
Another factor complicating Arizona’s defensive plans has been the team’s inability to stop the pass. While the Cards’ have been able to shut down opposing run games, that hasn’t been the case through the air. In fact, Arizona is on the other end of the spectrum in pass defense ranking 31st in the NFL allowing 265 yards per game.
The Cardinals have their strengths, but certainly look outmatched on paper against an efficient New York squad. Making matters worst for Arizona is the cross-country trip that has hampered the team in the recent past. However, the Cardinals may be bucking that trend as they’ve won their last two games on the East Coast earlier this year in Jacksonville and against he Carolina Panthers during last year’s playoff run.
The numbers may eventually even out by season’s end, but if Arizona wants any chance of duplicating last year’s success it must improve the NFL’s worst running game and the league’s second to worst pass defense starting this week. The Cardinals looked to have recaptured some of last year’s magic on defense a week ago in Seattle as they held the Seahawks to only 128 yards of total offense.
There is plenty of hope for the Cardinal faithful as Arizona comes in on a two-game winning streak and hung with the Giants in a 37-29 loss a year ago. In that game, the Cards outgained New York in total offense 371-321 and held a 27-18 advantage in first downs. Arizona’s downfall in the loss was a -2 turnover margin which ended up costing them a shot the victory.
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