By Brad Carroll
It's nowhere near panic time for the New York Giants this season, but their Week 1 performance against the Detroit Lions was troubling in so many ways. In the Giants 35-14 defeat, not only did the offense play as poorly as they did in the preseason, but the defense was surprisingly just as bad, with the rebuilt secondary allowing 346 passing yards. The offense was supposed to struggle, but the defense doing the same was an eye-opener.
The Giants will be seeking to put Week 1 and the entire preseason behind them when they host the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon. The season won't be decided by the outcome of the game, but a victory could set the Giants on a path toward the playoffs, while a loss could be the start of another losing season for Big Blue.
The Giants will have one definite edge on Arizona, as the Cardinals will travel to the East Coast for an early start time. Since 2001, the Cardinals are 9-21 when playing a 1 p.m. game on the East Coast. Here are three ways the Giants can extend those travel woes for the Cardinals and get their first victory of the young season.
Don't Turn The Ball Over
It's become a broken record since Week 1 of last season, the Giants can't turn the ball over and expect to win games. It's simple, but obviously important. Last week in a terrible loss to the Lions to open the season, quarterback Eli Manning threw two bad interceptions that came back to bite the team. The first one came early in the third quarter when the Giants trailed 14-7. Manning was intercepted on a third down play from the 22, giving the Lions the ball in the red zone. They converted it into a field goal. The second one came with 5:32 to go in the third quarter, again setting up the Lions in the red zone. Five plays after the pick the Lions put the game away with a touchdown, going up 27-7. The Giants had a ton of problems against the Lions last Monday, but the two turnovers cost them dearly. If Manning gives the ball away against the Cardinals, the Giants will lose again.
Everyone knew about the Giants problems on offense heading into the season, but the problems on defense were shocking in Week 1. The Giants defensive backs were lit up last week by the Lions, specifically Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie against Calvin Johnson. Megatron went off for 164 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches, mainly against Rodgers-Cromartie, who was the Giants big-money free agent splurge this offseason. It wasn't a good debut for him to say the least. Matthew Stafford threw for 346 yards overall in the game. The Cardinals don't have Megatron, but they do have Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, two big-play receivers that can do a lot of damage in the passing game. The Giants' secondary needs to be much better against the Cardinals passing game to have a chance.
Run To Set Up Pass
Manning has a couple of good targets in Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, but if the Giants don't establish a running game, the Cardinals won't give those receivers a chance to make a difference. It won't be easy for the Giants, however, as Arizona had the best run defense in the league last year and allowed just 53 rushing yards against the Chargers last Monday. The Giants did not run the ball well last week, with Rashad Jennings gaining 46 yards on 16 carries, a 2.9 yard per carry average. If the Giants can establish a running game, Manning should be able to gain yards through the air with Cruz and Randle, who were ineffective against Detroit. If that happens, the Giants will have a great chance to even their record this season.
Read our predictions for the game right here