The Arizona Cardinals host the New York Giants this Sunday in a cross divisional NFC matchup. The Cardinals are coming off a humbling loss to the Seattle Seahawks, while the Giants look to build off last week’s road win over Philadelphia.
The Giants opened as 3 point road favorites, but that was quickly bought down to a single point. Now sites are posting either -1 or a pick. The public is backing New York, which means the sharps are decidedly in favor of Arizona in this one. The wiseguys tend to lead us to valuable plays, so consider backing Arizona at home.
Considering the way the two teams played last week it might seem strange to back Arizona and fade New York. But it’s often times wise to play a team with something to prove and fade a team coming off a big win. For example, remember how Baltimore and Tennesse played in week 1? The Ravens crushed the Steelers in an emotional game, while Tennessee was sloppy in their loss at Jacksonville. The next week Baltimore was favored at Tennessee and lost straight up. This week New York and Arizona seem to fit that mold almost perfectly.
Arizona hasn’t been that bad this year. They beat Carolina in week 1, and the Panthers have turned out to be a decent team. They lost at Washington in a game they should’ve won. The Redskins, like the Panthers, look to be quite a bit better than people expected. The loss to Seattle, in my mind, is hard to explain. I think the Seahawks are a train wreck. But it’s always hard to win on the road, and teams historically have trouble up in Seattle.
Kevin Kolb is settling into being an effective NFL quarterback. Importantly, he understands that Larry Fitzgerald is his best friend on the field. The Cardinals definitely need a healthy Beanie Wells to take some pressure off the passing game. Kolb and Fitzgerald aren’t good enough to win without a productive running game. But with Wells keeping defenses honest they’re less able to double team Fitzgerald. Consequently, players like Early Doucet can become much more involved in the offense. Recently, Wells said that he is “100 percent” certain he will play Sunday. LaRod Stephens-Howling will also likely be back after missing two games with a hand injury.
The Giants have been able to persevere despite a number of injuries, especially to the defense. Osi Umenyiora has been out all season, though he might play this Sunday. At the other end, Justin Tuck will probably play, but he’s been hampered by a groin injury and a neck stinger. Jason Pierre-Paul has picked up the slack though. Pierre-Paul has 4 ½ sacks, tied for second in the League. Also, Mario Manningham practiced this week and will likely return to action after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. The New York secondary, however, is still thin. Antrel Rolle will likely see a lot of Fitzgerald. But as mentioned above, if Beanie Wells can force New York to honor the run, Rolle will have his hands full with Fitzgerald and Doucet and others should be able to find space for Kolb to get them the ball.
Also worth noting, Eli Manning has been sacked 10 times this year after being sacked only 16 times all of last season. Arizona has nine sacks this season, good enough for seventh best in the League.
Don’t be surprised if New York has a letdown this week. They’ll be traveling cross country following an emotional game against a division rival. The wiseguys foresee a good effort from the Cardinals, so for a free NFL pick, consider joining the sharps in backing Arizona.