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Arizona Cardinals Chat with the Enemy: New York Giants

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We're back this week with a new twist on the normal Q&A session as we sit down with New York Giants expert, Ed Valentine, from Big Blue View. We'll preview this Sunday's game between the Arizona Cardinals and his Giants and while this chat session won't quite match the video preview that we had last year, hopefully it'll still get the juices flowing.

ROTB: Ok, first question I have to ask each week.....What is your current injury situation and how will/could it effect Sunday's game?

Edward: Well, the Giants are an injury-riddled mess. Safety Kenny Phillips out for the year with a knee injury, leaving us very vulnerable at safety (see all the discussion on BBV about 'Bad, Bad C.C. Brown.' Chris Canty, Aaron Ross and Michael Boley, also all key defenders, are out. So, defensively this team has been weakened and has not, truthfully, been the dominant group it was expected to be. Not that that can't change. How about the Cards injury situation?

ROTB: Anquan Boldin is the big injury at this point. He suffered the dreaded "high" ankle sprain last week and didn't practice yesterday although both he and head coach Ken Whisenhunt said that they were encouraged by his progress. Boldin told reporters after practice that he'll most likely be a game time decision which for him doesn't sound very promising. Normally Boldin emphatically proclaims that he's going to play, especially in big games, so this might be just a case of trying not to break the bad news until game time. Others on the list include Stephen Spach (a tight end who wouldn't be missed), Steve Breaston (limited) and Beanie Wells (also limited). Breaston would be a huge loss, especially when if Boldin were also out, but most likely this is just a precaution because he's been slowed by a bone bruise suffered in the preseason. Wells is a new injury but with his past it's worth watching as the week progresses. Outside of those though there are no significant season ending injuries to speak of, at least not yet.

Edward: OK, so Arizona is 3-2. Give me an assessment of your team through five games?

ROTB: Well so far I think the Cardinals are sort of the same team that we saw last year during the regular season (aka Jekyll and Hyde). They'll play some great games, they'll play a great half every once in a while followed by a putrid half and sometimes they'll just flat out lay an egg. The offense has been picking up steam throughout the first five games after sputtering out of the gates thanks to some injuries at the wide receiver position. The defense has shown flashes of being very good, especially the run defense, but their overall level of success is greatly dependent on their ability to rush the passer. When they can pressure opposing quarterbacks this is a very good unit but when they allow any quarterback to get comfortable they will be beat.


ROTB: The Giants started the season very nicely until running into the Saints. Are the Giants an elite NFC team or did they benefit from playing some weak teams to start the season?

Edward: Both. Of course they benefited from a schedule that saw them play Washington, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Oakland (the NFL's junior varsity) in four of their first five games. And a couple of areas of concern got exposed Sunday by the Saints, who probably have the best offense in the league. But, this is definitely an elite team. Eli Manning is playing the best football of his career. They have a talented group of receivers. They still have that running game. Defensively, they still have not played up to their ability level, but they have not been anywhere close to healthy, either. The Giants have a lot of big-name players on their defensive line, but that group has been inconsistent. I expect that to change as the season wears on. Are the Giants the best team in the NFC? Maybe, maybe not. If this defense ever gets healthy, though, I still think the Giants have a chance to be special.

Edward: So, question I love to ask. If you could take one player off the Giants roster and put him on your team who would it be? Why?

ROTB: Wow, interesting question. Normally I'd probably flip a coin and take either Osi or Tuck but the Cardinals just switched to a 3-4 defense and I'm not positive that either would be best suited in that defense. The next place I'd look is offensive line considering that the Giants are routinely mentioned among the league's best. Without knowing the details of each of your starting five I'd take whichever tackle is better.

Edward: Interesting. In all honesty in a 3-4 the guy who might fit your team best is Mathias Kiwanuka, a speedy defensive end who also has outside linebacker experience.

ROTB: Interesting. He'd be a heavy OLB, kind of like LaMarr Woodley, but he'd probably still be an upgrade over our guys. Our OL play has been so poor though that I'd probably still stick with one of your tackles.

ROTB: The Giants have reputation as one of those teams that can consistently put pressure on teams with their front four. How has the pass rush been so far and if you had to game plan around slowing them down, what would you do?

Edward: Well, the pass rush has actually been an issue thus far. 'Performance' has not matched 'reputation.' The Giants have 14 sacks, but have had three games in which they got zero sacks. Sunday against New Orleans pressure was non-existent. Osi, Tuck, Kiwanuka and the rest of the guys have to start playing to their ability level on a consistent basis.

ROTB: A quick follow up, I noticed that the Saints used a third offensive tackle in place of the tight end sometimes. Is that something that is just part of the Saints playbook or are teams starting to use that to neutralize the Giants front four?

Edward: I think it is part of what the Saints do. Although I love the idea and I wish the Giants would utilize it, since they don't have a true 'blocking' tight end.


ROTB:
Well I hope it's something that the Cards use this weekend because our OT's have really struggled this year.

Edward: Prediction for Sunday?

ROTB: Hopefully the Cards study the Saints tape and try to use the same plan of attack. I'll go with Cards 35-31. Yours?

Edward: Oh, I'm sure the Cards will try to attack the Giants in a lot of the same areas. Basically, find 'Bad, Bad C.C. Brown' and throw it to whoever he should be covering. That should get you at least two TDs. Anyway, I think the Giants were really stung by last Sunday and I think you are going to see a huge effort this week. I will go 30-24, Giants.

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Thoughts?