The Arizona Cardinals come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Both the 6-6 Cardinals and 5-7 New York Giants are fighting for their playoff lives with four games remaining in the season. Let’s learn more about the Cardinals from Seth Cox of SB Nation’s Revenge of the Birds.
Ed: The Cardinals started off 5-2 and have lost four of five. What is going on with them and how would you assess their playoff chances with four games to go?
Seth: They still are not a very good team. They are young, lack talent at key positions, have dealt with a ton of injuries and in the end are still developing their second year quarterback to be a consistent game changer.
When you look at the Cardinals they have a lot of names, but outside of DeAndre Hopkins and Budda Baker, no other player has played at a consistently high level in 2020.
Kyler Murray is close to being a Pro Bowl type of player, but has lulls in his play still, and everyone else is either just too inconsistent,still growing, or even worse on the downside of their career.
When you combine that with the issues they’ve had with health, it is not too surprising that they have come back to .500 when they hit the toughest part of their schedule.
Ed: Markus Golden, Justin Pugh and Devon Kennard are all former Giants who had big roles for New York at one time. how is each guy doing in Arizona?
Seth: Golden has been here the shortest, he has been fine. I’ve always said about Golden he is a great secondary pass rusher, someone who gets cleanup sacks and hustle plays, but as the primary pass rusher he’s been close a lot and that is about it as he has one sack and two tackles for loss on the season. However, he is second on the team in quarterback hits with seven in only five games. He’s always been a good player as you know, just not a superstar.
Pugh is the longest-tenured that was not drafted by AZ and is having another solid season. He’s been that way it seems his whole career. He is better in pass pro than as a run blocker still, and he’s done a good job as a pass protector. His biggest issue this year has been penalties, as he has already tied his career high with eight penalties on the season with four games to go.
Kennard has been a bust and there is really no way around it. His play hasn’t been awful, which is the odd part, but he has played 65 snaps in the last four games total on defense. That is not good enough for someone who was supposed to be a splash free agent signing.
Ed: You can have one player off the Giants’ roster to put into the Cardinals’ lineup. Who are you taking and why?
Seth: This is tough because I feel like there are a bunch of right answers. If Saquon Barkley was healthy I think it would be utterly terrifying for opposing defenses to try and stop he and Kyler Murray as runners, but since he is on the IR let’s go with active players.
Offensively I love Darius Slayton and feel like he’d be a great addition to the Cardinals passing attack, as would Evan Engram.
Andrew Thomas is really enticing because of his pass protection ability and he and left tackle D.J. Humphries would give the Cardinals young, bookend tackles for the foreseeable future.
However, I have to go to the suddenly ferocious Giants defense for the player I would take. While Leonard Williams is one of the better defensive linemen in the league and would be an immediate impact and upgrade, I think there is one obvious answer based on the Cardinals needs…
James Bradberry is a player I loved coming out of college, fell to a perfect spot in Carolina and cashed in with the Giants and has been a great fit for the Giants. I feel like he would immediately be the best cornerback on the Cardinals roster by a bit and give them some much needed flexibility at the position moving forward.
The Giants roster has some really, really nice pieces, but I think nabbing Bradberry is the way I’d go.
Ed: Who are one or two players on the Arizona roster who have exceeded expectations? Who are one or two players who have underperformed?
Seth: I’ll go with one on each side.
D.J. Humphries got paid this offseason and there was a big debate in Arizona whether or not that was the right move. Through 12 games in the first season the answer can only be it was a bargain and the right move. He has been the best run-blocking tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and the sixth overall tackle, which is impressive when you look at his career. He has improved each week and now has a chance to really put himself in the discussion as a top ten tackle in the NFL … Which would have been absurd to talk about last year.
Defensively, Haason Reddick was basically forced into full time action because of injuries to Kennard and then Chandler Jones. He has been a pleasant surprise for the first time in his career playing at a high level week in and week out. Reddick is probably not an every down player, but he has some juice and when he is on the edge, he has less thinking to do and is able to just play. With that growth, he has been a guy that many would like to see the Cardinals re-sign this offseason and let Kennard go.
Real quick, I know it is hard to exceed expectations with DeAndre Hopkins, but holy crap watching him work every game, that dude is just different.
On the underperformed side I’ll just go with one because if I get started I will have a list of about 18-20.
Patrick Peterson is gassed and it shows every week. He had a great game on Sunday Night Football against D.K. Metcalf, but other than that has been a bust on the season. He and Dre Kirkpatrick have really made this secondary bad.
Ed: If the Giants win Sunday it will be because? If the Cardinals win it will be because?
Seth: It is funny, I have been watching the Giants last five games to get an idea of what they do well and what they don’t and it seems like there is a great key to success for them.
If the Giants hold the Cardinals to 20 or less points they will win the game. In games where the Giants are able to hold teams to less than 20 they are 5-2. They are obviously 0-5 in games where they give up 21 or more points.
The Cardinals are 0-4 when they score less than 24 points, and are 6-2 when they score more than 24 points.
Basically, if the Giants hold the Cardinals to less than 20, they are winning, take it to the bank.
If the Cardinals win, they finally were able to get their offense going again.
I don’t feel overly confident, but 30 years of being an Arizona Cardinals fan will do that.