Five things to watch for in the Cardinals-Giants game Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium:
Some more Stanton
Drew Stanton is back at quarterback, getting his third start of the season. If he plays out these last two games, there will be a scary symmetry to the Cardinals' QB starts this season: seven for Carson Palmer, five for Blaine Gabbert, four for Stanton. You don't want to have that kind of balance in your quarterback room, obviously. Stanton was solid in his two earlier starts, and he rarely turns the ball over. The way the Cards' defense is playing, that's a major plus.
There's no dirt like paydirt
There is another major reason Stanton is in the lineup, and it goes to the very basics of the NFL. The Cardinals have not been scoring touchdowns. Their last one came in the second quarter of the Dec. 3 game against the Rams, more than 10 quarters ago. There have been none – but 10 Phil Dawson field goals – since then. As well as the defense has played, that's not going to generate victories. David Johnson had 20 touchdowns by himself a season ago. This season, the Cardinals' offense as a whole has scored only 23.
18 8 1½ = records
The end of the season often brings with it record-watch, and with the Cardinals – heading into their final home game of the season – it's no different. Two of the team's Pro Bowlers have reachable totals. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs eight receptions to get to 100 on the season, not a crazy number for a single game (Fitz has had at least eight catches five times this season). He also needs only 18 yards to get to the 1,000-yard plateau, which is practically a forgone conclusion. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Chandler Jones needs 1½ sacks to tie the franchise record of 16½ or two to break it. Jones has three games of two sacks this season.
Eli's coming and that could be a problem
For a brief moment there, Eli Manning wasn't going to start this game. It was going to be Geno Smith or Davis Webb or anybody but Manning. But that has ended, and the Giants' long-time QB is coming off a 434-yard, three-touchdown game to play in a stadium where he has never lost. He won a Super Bowl there to cap off the 2007 season, and he beat the Cardinals there in both 2008 and 2011. The Giants are not a good team and have been undercut by injuries -- just like the Cards – but Manning hasn't gone away. The Cardinals' defense has been playing excellent football. They'll need to continue that.
Make it a Merry Christmas
I mean, it's Christmas. Who wouldn't want to win? A victory could make things interesting for the last game of the season in Seattle too. The Seahawks have to go to Dallas Sunday and if they lose and the Cardinals win, the Cards would have a chance to tie the Seahawks in the standings with a finale win in Seattle. It doesn't help with the playoffs but it would mean something to these players to finish strong.