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Giants vs. Cardinals: 5 storylines to follow


The Giants head into the Week 14 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals riding a four-game winning streak, their longest since 2016, after defeating Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, 17-12.

Wilson was held to 263 yards and one touchdown with an interception, finishing with a quarterback rating of 78.0. The Giants' defense generated 23 pressures and registered a season-high fivesacks. Joe Judge's squad also rushed for a season-high 190 yards on 31 carries (6.1 avg.) and a touchdown as the Giants handed the Seahawks their fourth loss of the year.

The Cardinals are trending in the opposite direction after losing their third consecutive game last week. Arizona fell to the Los Angeles Rams, 38-28, to drop to 6-6 on the year. Jared Goff threw for 351 yards, his third-highest yardage total of the season, and a touchdown while the Rams rushed for three touchdowns (including one from Goff). The Cardinals' Kyler Murray threw for three touchdowns but totaled just 173 yards.

With only four games remaining, this weekend's matchup at MetLife Stadium is set up to be a big one for both teams.

Here are five story lines to follow in Week 14.

Can DJ make it back?

Daniel Jones missed last week's win due to a hamstring injury suffered in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. In Jones' place, Colt McCoy stepped up and threw for 105 yards and a touchdown as the veteran picked up his first win as a starter since 2014. While McCoy got the start, it sounded as if Jones was pushing to get on the field. Coach Joe Judge told the media earlier in the week that it was his decision to sit the second-year quarterback.

"As far as Daniel, we're going to give him an opportunity today to move around the field," Judge said Wednesday. "We're still in that point of the week where I haven't seen him do anything physical yet this week since the last week really. We'll see him move around today. We're optimistic, I know he's going to tell us everything we want to hear, we've got to again use our eyes instead of our ears with Daniel, so we're going to put him out there today and make sure we give him a chance to progress. Today's a walkthrough, tomorrow we'll be on the field moving around and then Friday will be a big day for us to kind of make a final decision hopefully going into the weekend."

Arizona's defense ranks in the middle of the pack in both passing yards (16th) and touchdowns (15th) allowed.

"We have a little bit of time here at the end of the week," Jones said when asked Wednesday about his expectations for Sunday. "My job is to do everything I can to get it ready to play. Listen to what the trainers are telling me. Follow the program that's been laid out. Just try to take every day and work to get it better and see where we are."

Keep the Wayne Train rolling

For the first time since Week 5, Wayne Gallman did not score a touchdown on the ground during Sunday's game in Seattle. Despite not reaching the end zone, the fourth-year back carried the ball 16 times for a career-high 135 yards, as his 8.4 yards per attempt was also the highest of his career (in a game with 5+ carries). Alfred Morris scored the touchdowns out of the Giants' backfield, picking up one on the ground and one through the air.

"We had to give our runners opportunities to get in space and finish the runs," Judge said after the win in Seattle. "Obviously those guys did that and ran well. I don't have the exact numbers right now but our guys ran for somewhere around 190 yards. So you come in here against one of the top run defenses out there, they're coached very, very well year in and year out. Part of our game plan obviously was to run the ball, it starts up front with the guys blocking. I thought they did a good job of playing hard and wearing them down over time. I thought our [running]backs ran tough and finished runs."

The Giants have the league's 11th-best rushing attack after seven straight games with 100+ rushing yards, and Sunday's matchup should serve as a great chance for Big Blue to build on that success. Arizona enters Week 14 allowing 123.0 rushing yards per game, ranking 22nd in the league. The Cardinals have done a better job of keeping opposing backs out of the end zone as their 11 rushing scores allowed is tied for the 13th-lowest, but their 4.5 yards per carry surrendered comes in at 11th-most in the NFL.

Continue OL's recent success

The Giants got one of the best performances of the season from their offensive line against the Seahawks. The team rushed for 190 yards on 31 carries (6.1 avg.) and a touchdown, while Colt McCoy was only taken down twice all game. But the O-line's success goes beyond those numbers. Andrew Thomas picked up his highest overall grade of the season from Pro Football Focus, earning an 87.1, while Cameron Fleming led the Giants' offense with an 87.5. Will Hernandez added a 72.5 overall grade on 16 snaps, while Kevin Zeitler contributed with an elite 84.0 pass blocking grade. Matt Peart also received a 75.3 pass blocking grade on 15 total snaps.

A big reason for the unit's improved play lately has been the recent success of Thomas. He achieved the highest game grade for any of the offensive tackles selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Over the last two weeks, Thomas has not surrendered a single pressure while receiving a pass blocking grade of 76.0 (22nd among all offensive tackles). Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner named Tomas the top rookie of the week for Week 13, and Thomas was also selected to PFF's team of the week for Week 13.

Arizona comes into this matchup ranking 19th in the league with 29 sacks. Veteran outside linebacker Hasson Reddick leads the way for the Cardinals with five, while linebacker Dennis Gardeck has three. Arizona then has seven players tied at two sacks apiece from all different levels of the defense, showing that they are capable of generating pressure with anyone.

"Vance [Joseph] on the defensive side, he really coordinates it from the backend aspect of it," Judge said. "He's done a very good job mixing looks. This is a blitz heavy team. We have to be alert for a lot of movement, a lot of pressure throughout the game plan. They do a very good job of changing up on you. They'll blitz linebackers, DBs, whoever's involved, everyone is going to get a turn. He keeps it very multiple and will spin it on you."

"Yeah, they can be a deceptive defense and try to disguise coverages, disguise pressures," Jones said on Wednesday. "Like you said, (Budda) Baker does a good job with that stuff. Showing you one thing and then something else is coming. He's a good football player for sure. He's an active guy around the ball and blitzing. He's a good cover guy as well. They've got a lot of good players. They've got guys who can make plays and disrupt a game at every level. We'll have to be ready for it and we'll have a plan to account for it."

Contain Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray's game has really taken a big step up in his second NFL season. Murray has at least one touchdown pass in 11 of 12 games this year and a total of 22 to go with 2,987 yards. His 66.9 completion percentage is 2.5 percentage points higher than it was during his rookie campaign, while his rushing has gone up significantly. Murray has already topped all of his rushing statistics from last season as he has carried the ball 102 times for 665 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 6.5 yards per carry is the highest of NFL qualifiers, while his 10 scores on the ground ranks fifth.

"This dude is a threat every time he's got the ball, which is basically every play," said Judge. "Obviously, we're going to talk to our team about trying to limit his extended plays and trying to keep him from really making explosive plays with his feet. That's a lot easier said than done. There are a lot of things we're going to have to do in practice this week to get us prepared for that. I think the thing that's, I don't want to say unique, but very special about him is he throws the ball equally as well when he rolls to his right or his left. A lot of quarterbacks are very heavy to roll out to their dominant hand so they can throw on the run. This guy does a tremendous job of throwing back across his body.

"He can throw at different arm angles, whether he's throwing it sidearm or over the top. The ball comes at you so quick with this guy, and he's just ridiculously accurate. You can see that baseball background how this guy just gets that thing in there. He's very accurate, puts you in tight windows, he's very aggressive with it, and he has very sure-handed receivers that are used to catching balls in tight spaces. They make big plays as a result."

Murray's numbers have taken a small dip over the last two weeks, perhaps due to a sprained shoulder he suffered in Week 11. In the two games since, the second-year quarterback has averaged 171.5 passing yards per game while throwing three total touchdowns and two interceptions. Murray has carried the ball a total of 10 times over that span after averaging 10 carries per contest through the first 10 outings. He has gained 46 yards on those 10 rushes, and lost a fumble during last week's loss to the Rams.

The Giants did a great job of slowing down Russell Wilson last week. Wilson completed just 62.8 percent of his passes (third-lowest of season) for 263 yards with one touchdown and an interception. His 78.0 passer rating was his second-lowest of the season, while his 54.3 overall grade from PFF was well below his overall season grade of 90.3. He also ran seven times for 45 yards (6.4 avg.). This contributed to Seattle gaining 111 total yards on the ground, just the third time the Giants have allowed over 100 rushing yards in the last 10 games.

Limit DeAndre Hopkins

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is third in the league in both targets (116) and receptions (85), while his 1,019 receiving yards ranks seventh. Hopkins has made big play after play big all season, but none bigger than his game-winning touchdown catch on a Hail Mary at the end of the Week 10 win over Buffalo in which he made the catch over three defenders.

Despite his impressive numbers for the season, Hopkins' production has not looked the same over the last three weeks. From Weeks 11-13, he has a total of 158 receiving yards on 18 receptions with just one touchdown, while not topping 55 yards during that stretch. This comes after Hopkins finished with over 100 receiving yards in five of the first nine games of the year. His targets have not dropped, though, as Murray has thrown to Hopkins 28 times since Week 11.

The Giants' defense went up against another one of the league's top receivers last week. DK Metcalf leads the league in receiving yards, but against the Giants, he finished with five receptions for 80 yards. James Bradberry did a good job with Metcalf in coverage, limiting him to four catches (on seven targets) for 62 yards, including only 18 yards after the catch. Bradberry's play last week earned him a solid 72.2 overall grade from PFF. Seattle's other top receiver, Tyler Lockett, finished the game with six receptions for 63 yards.

View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cardinals, which dates back to 1926.


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