The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.:
K1 Versus Danny Dimes (And James Bettcher)
The first two quarterbacks drafted in 2019 will face each other Sunday. Kyler Murray had become the obvious choice at No. 1. Daniel Jones not as much when the Giants grabbed him at 6. Murray was the starter from the moment he stepped into the Cardinals’ facility. Jones briefly waited for a few Eli Manning starts before the Giants made their inevitable decision to change. Jones has had some good moments, and it’ll help to get guys like Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram back on the field. But Murray is coming off the best two games of his young career. Former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher is doing the same job in New York, and how Bettcher goes after Murray – and Bettch always did like to blitz, which hasn’t changed – will be fun to watch as Murray grows into his position. Murray will have the chance for some big plays through the passing game if the Giants can’t get to him first, which has become much more difficult of late.
How Much Can A P2 Help With An E2 And A Saquon?
Patrick Peterson is back in the Cardinals’ secondary. That’s a big deal, because Peterson is a Pro Bowl player being dropped into a defense that needs more talent down-in and down-out. There is little question defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will be able to make some calls he hadn’t been able to previously. But there is also the reality the Giants are getting back two big pieces of their offense this week, players Peterson isn’t directly involved with. One is running back Saquon Barkley, already one of the best backs out there and a threat to run and to catch. The Cardinals have to be able to stop the run to force passes and make Peterson more of an advantage. The other is tight end Evan Engram – and the Cards know what ugly words “tight end” have become this season. Peterson might allow the Cardinals to put another defensive back on the tight end, maybe Tramaine Brock perhaps, or even safety Budda Baker. But those are two players for which the Cardinals must account, Peterson or not.
Three In A Row, Or Capitalizing On Opportunity
The Cardinals have two straight wins and have not won three in a row since December of 2015. This is a good opportunity to get there again, with the Giants holding a 2-4 record and playing a rookie quarterback and with a defense that has been up and down. (Actually, a remarkably similar description to the Cards.) But it’s still a cross-country trip and a 10 a.m. Arizona start time. Those can be difficult. Also difficult: The Cardinals have the second-hardest schedule in the league from this point on, topped only by what the Falcons are facing. The Cards still have five games left in the NFC West, arguably (or maybe not even an argument) the toughest division in football. They have a trip to New Orleans. They have to go cross-country to play the Buccaneers. The Browns and Steelers are still on the schedule. This is a chance at a win. The Cards have to take advantage.