The only holiday gift the New York Giants can afford for their fans are the solace in the fact that there are only two games left in this miserable 2017 season.
Well that and an attempt to avoid their first 13-loss campaign in their 93-year history. They’ll try to do so in a game , as they head to the site of Super Bowl XLII on Christmas Eve, facing an anything but super showdown with the Arizona Cardinals (4:25 PM, FOX).
Headed into their final road games of the season, the Giants (2-12) are coming off a valiant effort against the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles, falling 34-29 at MetLife Stadium last Sunday.
Quarterback Eli Manning put up a season-high 434 yards, throwing for three scores, while receiver Sterling Shepard tied a career-high with 11 receptions, hauling in 139 yards and one of Manning’s scores, the other two going to Tavarres King. The Giants, however, were unable to withstand a four touchdown outing from Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as well as several special teams blunders that created a maximum 12-point swing.
The Cardinals (6-8) are likewise doomed, officially eliminated from playoff contention with their 20-15 loss to the Washington Redskins in Landover last week.
The entirety of the Arizona scoring came from the leg of kicker Phil Dawson, who kicked five field goals in the losing effort. To combat the offensive struggles, the Cardinals are turning to Drew Stanton for these final two games, replacing Blaine Gabbert, who threw for 189 yards in the Washington loss.
Season Series History
This will be the 126th meeting between the Giants and Cardinals, with a good number of those meetings coming when the Cardinals were members of the NFC East. The last meeting came in 2014 at MetLife Stadium, with the Cardinals taking a 25-14 win.
Much like this week, Stanton started for an injured Carson Palmer, throwing for 167 yards. Arizona also put up 124 yards rushing, 91 coming from Andre Ellington, while Ted Ginn Jr. took a punt back 71 yards for a score.
Including their historic Super Bowl win, the Giants are 3-0 all-time at University of Phoenix Stadium. They last visited in 2011, picking up a 31-27 win.
Down 20-10 entering the fourth quarter, running back Brandon Jacobs opened the frame with a one-yard score, while two late touchdown throws from Manning sealed the deal, part of a 321-yard day. Tight end Jake Ballard and receiver Hakeem Nicks were the lucky recipients, Nicks’s score coming with 2:39 to go in the game.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup To Watch: QB Drew Stanton vs. Giants Defense
Giants fans may think they have it bad with their offense, but over these past few weeks, the Cardinal faithful would happily switch places.
Arizona’s last 30 points, dating back to December 3’s 32-16 loss to the Rams, have all come from the leg of Dawson, including all 12 tallies in a 12-7 win over the Titans two weeks ago. Poor Larry Fitzgerald, who finally seemed to find some passer consistency in Carson Palmer, is playing out his twilight with the Stanton/Gabbert duo, with the latter finally mercifully removed from the proceedings after getting sacked 20 times over the past three weeks.
The veteran Stanton, who has built himself a decade long career as a reliable backup, will return to action, looking to send the Cardinals out on a high note. Giants personnel have noted the changes in the game plan upon the announcement.
“(Cardinals head coach) Bruce Arians likes to throw the football,” interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said earlier this week. “I think Stanton has done a nice job in the game. He’s 9-6, I believe, in games he started, so he’s proven he could win in this league. So, he’s not a guy we’re taking for granted.”
“(I’ve known) him since college and he’s had to play these last couple years,” added quarterback Eli Manning. “I believe last time we played Arizona, he played. So, he’s played well and smart guy. He’ll know how to run the offense.”
Stanton perhaps couldn’t have picked a perfect time to return, as the Giants miles-long injury list continues to showcase safety Landon Collins, who continues to play through an ankle injury sustained two weeks ago against Dallas.
Linebacker B.J. Goodson is already confirmed to be sitting once more. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and safety Nat Berhe’s statuses are in question.
Stanton, 33, will probably be playing for one last contract, as he is set to become a free agent after the season. On the other side, this could be a great chance for young safety Andrew Adams to showcase his own skills. Whoever prevails in this battle of replacements could give their team some much-needed pride.
|Giants||LB BJ Goodson||Ankle||OUT|
|Giants||WR Tavarres King||Concussion||OUT|
|Giants||S Landon Collins||Ankle||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||S Nat Berhe||Hamstring||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||DE Jason Pierre-Paul||Finger||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||LB Josh Bynes||Ankle||OUT|
|Cardinals||TE Troy Niklas||Ankle||OUT|
|Cardinals||G Earl Watford||Ankle||OUT|
|Cardinals||S Antoine Bethea||Knee||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||WR John Brown||Toe||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||LB Karlos Dansby||Knee||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||LB Gabe Martin||Hamstring||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||DL Olsen Pierre||Illness||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||WR Chad Williams||Illness||QUESTIONABLE|
|Cardinals||RB Kerwynn Williams||Quad/Ribs||QUESTIONABLE|
The Giants Will Win If…
They carry over the offensive explosiveness.
Last Sunday was by far the best the Giants have looked on offense all season, as they reached the precipice of the apparently forbidden 30-point plateau, a landmark they haven’t gotten to in nearly two full seasons. Going up against a reeling Cardinals team that is likewise deflated following elimination, the Giants need to play to the cliche and play for pride.
This season has been enough of a nightmare as is. The entire team, not just the offense, should be playing to not be included in one of the most humiliating footnotes in Giants history. If they can keep the promise they showed last week against Philadelphia, it can give the Giants an early Christmas present and establish some good mojo for whatever’s left of this brutal year.
The Cardinals Will Win If…
They establish an offensive presence.
In a complete role reversal from last season, it’s the Giants’ defense that’s costing them games, and last week was no exception. The Giants led in the late stages, but couldn’t get the crucial stops necessary to escape from East Rutherford with a victory.
Such a depleted and defeated defense should be a welcome sight for Arizona, who will want to give their home fans one last memory to remember them by before embarking into the cold offseason. Arizona can also earn a win but getting Manning on the run again. Who better to do that than versatile linebacker Chandler Jones?
The Steve Spagnuolo era has not produced any wins yet, but it has produced something that wasn’t on display for a longtime in the Ben McAdoo era: heart. The pain of last week’s loss was apparent in the locker room this week, proving that this team is not playing for a higher draft pick, eschewing any ideas of tanking.
Going up against a demoralized opponent that just saw their fringe playoff chances die provides a good opportunity to steal a win, and provide, as Eli Manning put it, an early Christmas present for the New York faithful.
Giants 16, Cardinals 10