The New York Giants’ Week 16 trip to face the Arizona Cardinals shapes up as a dangerous game for the Giants. Partially because, notwithstanding their 7-8-1 record in 2016, Arizona has been a quality team in recent seasons. Secondly, and maybe more importantly, the trip to face the Cardinals comes during a season ending stretch in which the other three games are against NFC East rivals.
Let’s take a closer look at Arizona as we continue our team-by-team profiles of the Giants’ 2017 opponents.
NFC West: 2nd
Offense: No. 6 in points scored, No. 9 in yards gained
Defense: No. 14 in points allowed, No. 2 in yards given up
OL Tony Bergstrom, PK Phil Dawson, LB Karlos Dansby, LB Jarvin Jones, S Antoine Bethea
WR Andre Ellington, TE Jermaine Gresham, OL Earl Watford, DE Calais Campbell, LB Kevin Minter, S Tony Jefferson, CB Marcus Cooper, S D.J. Swearinger, PK Chandler Catanzaro
- Round 1 (No. 13) — LB Haason Reddick
- Round 2 (No. 36) — S Budda Baker
- Round 3 (No. 98) — WR Chad Williams
- Round 4 (No. 115) — G Dorian Johnson
- Round 5 (No. 157) — OT Will Holden
- Round 6 (No. 208) — S Rudy Ford
Three Questions About The Cardinals
Seth Cox of Revenge of the Birds gives us the scoop on the Cardinals:
Ed: What is your favorite thing that the Cardinals accomplished this offseason?
Seth: The best accomplishment of the offseason for Arizona was their influx of youth on defense to combine with their veteran additions in free agency. While the loss of Calais Campbell is massive, they had Robert Nkemdiche waiting in the wings, but they lost their two starting safeties, a starting cornerback, and a starting inside linebacker.
They met that with the additions of Antoine Bethea and second round pick Budda Baker in the secondary while addressing the linebacker position with Karlos Dansby and first round pick Haason Reddick.
A lot of times, teams rely on a vet or a rookie to fill voids, but the Cardinals double dipped at a number of key positions to insure they return to a high level of defensive play.
Ed: What is the one thing they did not accomplish, or that happened to them, that has you the most concerned?
Seth: Despite the presence of Blaine Gabbert that seems to be a real thing, at least coming from the team, it is not having a plan in place for post Carson Palmer.
This is not a function of only this off-season, but if you asked me my biggest gripe, it is that they've continued to cycle in bad players hoping to find one that sticks instead of making a high investment over the last two or three years. It continued this off-season, where Gabbert appears to be the new tryout player who gets a year with no game time to prove himself.
Ed: Are you optimistic that this will be a good season for the Cardinals or pessimistic that a down year might be coming?
Seth: I've waffled back and forth on this but the Cardinals have done as much as possible for this season to regroup from the losses on defense.
Nothing has changed on an offense that averaged just under 30 points per game the second half of 2016, they have firepower, they just need some health on their side, offensively.
If the defense can maintain their form is really the question, if not, you'll see another .500 season, but if they get going again, it could be a 10- or 11-win team.
The real key is, they have the fourth easiest schedule, on paper, in the NFL. They get San Francisco and Los Angeles for four games, and their late season road games will only have one weather concern.
If the defense can gel, they could be a playoff team again in 2017.
Biggest Storyline Heading Into Training Camp
Carson Palmer and the offense. While there are more questions about the defense, Palmer and the offense will make this team a contender or a pretender. If they can find an early rhythm in the season and the offensive line can keep Palmer clean, they will buy enough time for the defense to figure it out. If the offense stumbles out of the gate again, they’ll likely be headed for another mediocre season as the defense will not be ready to win games that early. — Revenge of the Birds
Under-The-Radar Storyline Heading Into Training Camp
What’s the limit for David Johnson? He was spectacular in his sophomore season, but only a handful of players have been used like he was in 2016 and then produced again the following year. Is he inline with some notable Hall of Famers like Marshall Faulk and LaDanian Tomlinson, or will his star shine bright and burn out quickly? — Revenge of the Birds
Like the Giants appear to be, the Cardinals are in a period where they have a closing championship window with a veteran quarterback. After Arizona finished below .500 and missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons in 2016, some might even wonder if that window with 37-year-old Carson Palmer has already closed.
The 2017 season will be a good barometer.
By the time the Giants and Cardinal meet in Week 16, we’ll have a pretty good sense of what both teams are. Will the Giants’ offense be what many think it could be? Will the rebuilt Arizona defense be good enough? Will Manning and Palmer be able to hold off Father Time, or succumb to the ravages of age?
This shapes up right now as a critical game that should have playoff implications for both teams. Of course, both hope it turns out that way.