From 1-7 to a division title? That is what the New York Giants (5-7) hope to pull off this season as they look to win their fifth game in a row over a struggling Arizona Cardinals (6-6) team, losers of three straight games.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants
Sunday, December 13, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at MetLife Stadium
Despite the teams heading in opposite directions, the Cardinals are still a 2.5-point favorite at most NFL betting sites. It remains to be seen if quarterback Daniel Jones’ hamstring injury will allow him to play with normal mobility this week after he sat out Sunday’s stunning win in Seattle. When these teams met last season, Jones was sacked eight times in a 27-21 win by Arizona. However, Chandler Jones had half of those eight sacks and he has been out since Week 5 with a season-ending torn biceps injury.
What’s Wrong With Arizona?
Arizona has not won since the Hail Mary to beat Buffalo in Week 10. Without that little miracle, this would be a five-game losing streak for the Cardinals, once considered a potential playoff team this year.
So, what has gone wrong? Part of it has been the recent competition as the Dolphins, Bills, Seahawks, Patriots, and Rams would be a challenging slate for any team this year. That is certainly tougher than the Washington, Dallas, and New York Jets teams the Cardinals cruised to victory over earlier this season.
Arizona is the most penalized team in the NFL this year. Kicker Zane Gonzalez has also done few favors for the team, missing critical field goals late in losses to the Dolphins and Patriots.
The biggest concern right now is Kyler Murray. He injured his shoulder against the Seahawks, but has not missed any action so far. However, it has seemingly limited his effectiveness in this offense that relies on a lot of short throws and his amazing scrambling ability. In the last three games, Murray has rushed for 61 total yards, which is how many he had in the Buffalo win. In the last two games, Murray has failed to crack 175 passing yards. Defenses seem to be figuring out that this passing game is mostly just short and intermediate passes to DeAndre Hopkins, who has been held under 60 yards in three straight games.
Murray does not take many hits. However, the Giants were aggressive in getting after Russell Wilson with five sacks on Sunday, shutting down a superior offense to Arizona’s with two great receivers instead of one. Last year, the Cardinals ran the ball very well on the Giants, but even in that game Murray only passed for a career-low 104 yards.
With the Arizona offense coming off its two worst games of the season and the Giants defense coming off its two best games of the season, it seems likely the Giants will hold the Cardinals down on the scoreboard to give the offense a chance for this win.
Giants: Not the Worst Offense in New York
Only two offenses this season have failed to have a game with 400 yards, and they happen to share a stadium. The Jets and Giants are those teams, but at least Jason Garrett’s offense has stumbled into a handful of wins. Believe it or not, but this team could actually be on an eight-game winning streak if it did not surrender double-digit leads to the Cowboys, Eagles, and Buccaneers.
The Giants do not play an attractive brand of football, but Joe Judge’s team has been effective after a brutal first month to the season. The offense has cut down on giveaways, however, Jones still takes his share of sacks while not producing enough big plays in the passing game as he did as a rookie.
Wayne Gallman has stepped up in the last month to emerge as the team’s best back in Saquon Barkley’s absence. Gallman had his first 100-yard rushing game in Seattle on Sunday with 135 yards. That came after his first 90-yard game in Cincinnati the week before, so he is on a roll right now and the Cardinals are a middling run defense.
Still, the main story in this one is just how healthy Jones looks. He was given every chance to play last Sunday before the team decided it was best to go with Colt McCoy. Jones is much more gifted than McCoy at this point, especially with providing rushing value. If he can protect himself and avoid all the sacks he took against Arizona a year ago, the Giants have a good shot to win this game.
You have to go back to Week 5 against Dallas to find the last time the Giants allowed more than 25 points in a game or lost a game by more than two points. You have to go back to Week 6, also against Dallas, to find the last time Arizona won a game in regulation by more than two points.
With both quarterbacks nursing injuries, this is an interesting game with a strength (Arizona offense) vs. strength (New York defense) matchup on display. For my NFL picks this weekend, I am going to roll the dice and go with the Giants to continue this run another week.
NFL Pick: (visit our Sportsbook Review)