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Preview: Giants look to slow Cardinals' fast tempo

DALVIN-TOMLINSON

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants and Arizona Cardinals will meet tomorrow in MetLife Stadium after arriving on journeys from opposite directions.

After starting 0-5 and 1-7, the Giants have won four consecutive games and sit atop the NFC East entering the final quarter of the season. The Cardinals started 5-2 but have lost four of their last five games and avoided a five-game losing streak only because of the "Hail Murray" touchdown that gave them a shocking victory against Buffalo. Arizona is 6-6 and will fall three games off the lead in the NFC West with a loss Sunday.

The Giants have plenty of reasons to ignore the Cardinals' latest struggles, the most notable being the talent they see on Arizona's roster. Quarterback Kyler Murray is a running and passing threat who was the first overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Larry Fitzgerald is a Canton-bound receiver and DeAndre Hopkins has the talent and statistics to suggest he will someday enter that conversation, and with Murray and running backs Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds, the Cards average 5.0 yards a carry (best in the NFL) and rushed for 19 touchdowns (tied with New England for second, one behind New Orleans).

Safety Logan Ryan demonstrated just how concerned he was about the Cardinals when he was asked about next week's game against Cleveland getting flexed to Sunday night.

"The Arizona Cardinals have the number one red area offense, they have the number four rushing offense, Kyler Murray is the top rushing quarterback (actually, he's four yards behind Lamar Jackson), DeAndre Hopkins is the best receiver we've seen all year, Larry Fitzgerald is a Hall of Fame receiver. They run the most tempo in the NFL, number one tempo offense, we haven't seen an offense that runs as much tempo as them. So, the Browns being flexed, it means absolutely nothing because I've got to worry about this tempo these guys are about to give us, I've got to worry about DeAndre Hopkins, I've got to worry about Larry Fitzgerald, I've got to worry about Kyler Murray, so that's 100 percent of what my worries and concerns are and they turn to non-worries and non-concerns during the game when I prepare all week."

Ryan's unease might be heightened had he played for the Giants last season. On Oct. 20, 2019, the Cardinals visited MetLife – where, by the way, they beat the Jets on Oct. 11 – and jumped out to a 17-0 lead on their way to a 27-21 victory. Edmonds rushed for touchdowns of 20, 20 and 22 yards.

But again, the final score is not what the Giants are fixated on.

"Anytime you have any carryover from an opponent like that, that you played last year, it's important to go ahead and reference more of the matchup piece of maybe how they may try to go ahead and matchup your defenders or offensive players with someone they have on their roster and vice versa," coach Joe Judge said. "How you can go ahead and cover a guy with success, that player may have had last year? That being said, everything else we really count on as being irrelevant."

A popular storyline this week has been the similarities between the Cardinals' offense and that of the Seahawks, who the Giants defeated last week in Seattle, 17-12. The teams are sixth and eighth, respectively in yards-per-game, top 10 in points scored, have terrific receivers and depth at running back. But the first comparison most observers make first concerns the quarterbacks. Murray and Russell Wilson are both shorter than six feet, possess strong throwing arms and elusiveness and are an absolute migraine for any defense tasked with stopping them. And they make those talented players around them better.

"Russ is a great quarterback in this league," Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "For Murray, he is just younger. The thing about him, not that Russell isn't fast, this guy Murray is true speed. When I'm talking to the players, true speed. Not fast, not quick, we're dealing with true speed. Any mistake, it can be a touchdown at any given moment. That's what you're dealing with, with this guy. Whether it's the run game or the passing game, he can get away from you and then get the ball down the field. That's what I mean by true speed and the ability to score a touchdown at any point on the field. He's pretty dynamic. We have a big challenge ahead of us.

"On top of that, he has some of the best wide receivers to play the game since I've been in the league working with him. Drake is playing at such a high level right now. The backs are playing at such a high level. The guys are doing a good job blocking. Big challenge this week."

Murray has completed 66.9% of his passes for 2,987 yards and 22 touchdowns, two more than he threw in his entire rookie season. He's also rushed for 665 yards, averaged 6.5 yards a carry and run for 10 scores. Last year against the Giants, Murray threw for only 104 yards and ran for 28, and none of his 10 carries gained more than 11 yards. But as Judge would say, that's irrelevant.

"Any type of mobile player, especially him, he's dynamic, he's extremely fast, quick," linebacker Blake Martinez said. "He can cover the whole width of the field extremely fast. I think at the end of the day, it all comes down to everybody on the field. I don't think you can kind of put it as one person being a key point for us. I think it's going to come down to every single person covering their part of the field, doing their one eleventh and making sure we contain him as much as you can. Obviously, he's going to make plays. But when you get that opportunity, you make those plays as well."

"This quarterback is obviously a dynamic player," Judge said. "I've been asked a lot of questions relative to how is he similar to Russell Wilson. I think these are very different players, but both are very good with similar skillsets in terms of being able to run and throw. But he's totally his own player. This guy does a great job improvising on his feet, extending plays, keeping his eyes down field and making big throws. He has a rocket for an arm, and this guy can be as aggressive as he wants to because he's very, very accurate with the ball. … This dude is a threat every time he's got the ball, which is basically every play."

Which is exactly how often the Giants' defense must be at its best to shut him down.

*Arizona has won the last three games in the series, and in each of its last three visits to East Rutherford. In addition to last year's game, the Cardinals also beat the Giants in Arizona in 2017 and in New Jersey in 2009 and 2014. The Giants' most recent victory in the series was in State Farm Stadium in 2011. From 1970-2002, the Giants and Cardinals were both members of the NFC East. The Giants lead the series, 80-45-2

*The "Bud Light Giants Gameday" radio pregame show will begin at 11:30 a.m. on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and will stream live on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.

"Giants Postgame Live" presented by Mercedes-Benz can be heard immediately after the game - also on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM and streaming on Giants.com, the Giants mobile app, and "Giants TV" streaming app.

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

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