The Giants have won four consecutive games, matching their longest winning streak since 2016. This weekend, they will welcome the Arizona Cardinals to MetLife Stadium in search for their sixth win of the season.
The Giants traveled across the country and took down the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field last week, 17-12. Wayne Gallman and Alfred Morris led a rushing attack that gained a season-high 190 yards, while the defense sacked Russell Wilson five times, including 2.5 from Leonard Williams. The Seahawks were held to 327 net yards, just the third time this season they were unable to top the 330-yard mark, while the 12 points were a season-low.
While the Giants are trending in the right direction, the Cardinals seem to be heading in the other. Entering Week 14, Arizona has lost three consecutive games. The Cardinals lost at home to the Rams last week, 38-28, as L.A. gained 463 total yards of offense, the second-highest yardage total Arizona has surrendered all year. The 38 points were also the most Arizona has allowed in 2020.
With the Giants in the division race and the Cardinals fighting to stay alive for a wild-card spot, this Week 14 matchup is a big one for both teams.
Here are five players to watch on Sunday.
RB Wayne Gallman
Gallman's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown came to an end against the Seahawks, but don't think that stopped the Wayne Train from continuing to roll. Gallman rushed the ball 16 times in Seattle and gained a career-high 135 yards, good for a career-best 8.4 yards per carry (in games with 5+ carries). This performance also featured the longest run of Gallman's career as he broke off a 60-yard run in the third quarter, leading to an Alfred Morris touchdown.
Gallman is in the midst of his most productive season in the NFL. The fourth-year back has rushed for 504 yards and six touchdowns with an average yards per carry of 4.6, all of which are easily the best marks of his career. Since taking over for the injured Devonta Freeman in Week 7, Gallman has rushed for 428 yards and six touchdowns, adding 11 receptions for 51 yards.
"It's a challenge to run the ball in the NFL," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett told reporters Thursday. "It really is from any personnel grouping. Defenses do such a good job from a scheme standpoint and from a talent standpoint in stopping the run. It's a challenge for us. It's something we believe in. We believe in it very strongly to be balanced and to attack different ways.
"We've run the ball a lot better here the last six or seven weeks. I think that's helped our team. It's helped our offense. The residual effect to your pass protection and your passing game I think can be a positive one. Then really throughout the team as well, instilling that mentality of toughness, time of possession is a big part of it. You're always trying to do whatever you can do to help the team win. I think running the football allows you to do that."
The Cardinals have struggled to slow down the run this season, especially in recent weeks. They're allowing 123.0 rushing yards per game, ranking 21st in the league, while giving up 4.5 yards per attempt (20th). They have permitted each of their last three opponents to rush for at least 110 yards, allowing an average of 131.3 yards per game during that stretch. The Rams scored three touchdowns on the ground against the Cardinals last week (one apiece for Jared Goff, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson).
LT Andrew Thomas
Thomas had an elite performance against the Seahawks, He did not allow any pressures on 26 pass blocking snaps, helping him earn an overall grade of 87.1 from Pro Football Focus, easily the highest grade of his rookie campaign. In fact, Thomas' Week 13 grade is the highest single-game grade of the season among the offensive tackles selected in the first round of the 2020 draft. This is a group that includes Thomas, Cleveland's Jedrick Wills, the Jets' Mekhi Becton, Tampa Bay's Tristan Wirfs, Miami's Austin Jackson and Tennessee's Isaiah Wilson.
Thomas' performance last week earned him plenty of praise, as he was named to Pro Football Focus' team of the week for Week 13. In addition, PFF's Mike Renner named Thomas his top rookie of the week. Over the last two games, Thomas has not surrendered any pressures while receiving a pass blocking grade of 76.0 (22nd among all offensive tackles).
"Look, this guy has never blinked," head coach Joe Judge said. "He's never wavered. One thing about Andrew is he's played aggressive for 60 minutes in every game this season. I see that in practice every day. He's very intelligent, he's very insightful, he has that quiet demeanor to him where you know he's digesting everything you say. Then when he asks questions, he asks the right, smart questions. But I see him playing very aggressive, I see him playing effectively, and I see his level of play improving.
"But that's natural for any rookie through the course of the season and just getting more and more experience, especially with the way he had to start this season. Look, this guy came in baptized by fire. He saw some of the top rushers in the world out of the gate. This guy stepped up to the plate and he fought his butt off for 60 minutes and he kept improving, kept improving, and I see him improving every day."
Arizona's pass rush has 29 sacks, which places the Cardinals 14th in the league. But unlike some of the Giants' previous opponents, the Cardinals' sack production comes from all three levels of its defense. Outside linebacker Haason Reddick leads the team with five sacks and linebacker Dennis Gardeck has three. Arizona also has seven players tied at two sacks apiece, including safety Budda Baker, linebackers De'Vondre Campbell and Isaiah Simmons, and defensive linemen Angelo Blackson and Jordan Phillips.
DL Leonard Williams
Williams is another member of the Giants who enjoyed a stellar performance in Seattle last week. The defensive lineman registered 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits of Russell Wilson in Week 13, matching his career-high marks set back in Week 1 of the 2016 season. Williams has 5.5 sacks over the last five games, with the Giants going 4-1 during that stretch.
With four games remaining in the season, Williams has already broken his previous career-high mark of seven sacks in 2016. The 26-year-old has 8.5 sacks on the year to go with 24 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss. Williams' 79.9 overall grade from PFF is tied with Dexter Lawrence for the highest grade on the Giants' defense and ranks 17th among all interior defensive linemen. His 72.8 pass rushing grade is a drastic improvement over the 66.2 grade he earned last season.
"First off, he's freakishly talented so there's only so much you're going to teach this guy skillset wise," Judge told the media on Thursday. "Now, you have to refine the technique, the fundamentals and really emphasize the finish. I think "Spence" [defensive line coach Sean Spencer] has done a really good job with Leonard in those areas. The one thing that really shows up, I think the way Leonard is playing is he has tremendous finish right now of getting to the quarterback or in pursuit getting to the runner.
"He's made a lot of disruptive plays. A lot of things don't show up on stat sheets. If they're doubling him, someone else is single, so where's the pressure coming from? There are a lot of things that Leonard does by just kind of the caliber of athlete he is. But to me, the finish he's playing with is really making a big difference for us as a team."
Arizona has surrendered just 20 sacks on the year, the 9th-fewest in the league. However, 10 of those sacks have come in the last four weeks, with Arizona losing three of those four contests.
DL Dalvin Tomlinson
Tomlinson has been enjoying a solid 2020 campaign. Through the first 12 games of the season, the fourth-year defensive lineman has racked up 37 tackles (18 solo), 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. In addition to his ability to get behind the line of scrimmage, Tomlinson, 26, has also shown a knack for getting his hands on the football. After registering just one pass breakup in his first three NFL seasons, Tomlinson has batted down four passes already this season.
Tomlinson's play this season has earned him a solid 72.0 overall grade from PFF. The combination of Tomlinson, Williams and Lawrence form one of the league's most dangerous interior defensive line groups. But Tomlinson's true value to the Giants goes well beyond the stat sheet. He was voted as one of the team's defensive captains this season, and just this week, he was announced as the Giants’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
"I've known him since he was a rookie, I really have a love for this guy," assistant head coach / defensive coordinator Patrick Graham told reporters this week. "In terms of what he does on and off the field, having a relationship with him. I just think that he's a genuine person. He's one of those people that you become a better person, better player, being around him. You can see that. Where that D-line is going right as they go through this process is a direct correlation to his leadership and what he does on that field, regardless of what statistics or what have you. He's teaching them how to use their hands properly. He's teaching them about the right attitude playing up front…
"He was a young guy learning from the older guys and now as he's grown, he's ready to teach the masters classes. It's a beautiful thing to see. Pad level, playing with his hands, the ability to get off blocks. The conditioning to be able to finish games. It's a such a good thing to see for that guy. I'm just happy to be around him."
CB James Bradberry
James Bradberry has been shutting down opposing teams' top wide receivers all season, and Week 13 was no different. Bradberry matched up against Seattle's DK Metcalf for most of Week 13, limiting the NFL's leading-receiver to four receptions on seven targets for 62 yards, including just 18 yards after the catch. His performance earned him a solid 72.2 overall grade from PFF.
Bradberry finished with a season-high seven tackles (five solo) against the Seahawks while forcing a fumble. He also added a pass breakup to his final stats, as his 16 on the season is tied for the league-lead with Tampa Bay's Carlton Davis and Miami's Xavien Howard. The veteran corner also has three interceptions and two forced fumbles while playing nearly every defensive snap.
This week, Bradberry is likely to line up against DeAndre Hopkins, one of the NFL's most talented receivers with 85 receptions for 1,019 yards, both of which rank near the top of the NFL leaderboard. Although he has failed to top 55 receiving yards in any of the last three games, totaling just 158 yards and one touchdown in that span, he has posted five 100-yard outings this season.
"The thing we try to stress here as much as anything is even though we put certain guys on different receivers as matchups, it really has to be all 11 on the field doing their job," Judge said to reporters on Friday about Bradberry matching up against Hopkins. "Look, it's a whole lot easier covering an elite receiver when the defensive front is getting to the quarterback. It's a whole lot easier defending that receiver when the underneath coverage is doing their jobs and eliminating those checkdowns or breaking on the ball when they give it to checkdowns and tackling them for a short loss.
"Again, those guys have all responded. I'm pleased with the way they've competed, they've made a lot of progress through the year in our man and our zone techniques, especially at the corner position. But we need all 11 to really show up. This has to be a team game for us this week."
View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cardinals, which dates back to 1926.