We're a few days away now fellas, from the Sunday night stage. Our Cardinals take on one of the NFC powerhouses - the New York Giants. It's going to take a lot from a team that is trying to show they are one of the best in the league, and the Cardinals will need to play mistake-free. The Giants on the other hand, are coming off an embarrassing loss to the undefeated New Orleans Saints, and are sure to be pumped - I know... lucky-us right? At this point, I'm ready for the doubters to stop doubting and the critics to stop criticising. The Cardinals need this win. This is a statement game. This is a proving grounds game, as they can take down the mighty Giants. I know one thing's for sure, I'll take a win any which way I can. With that being said, here's the keys to the game.
"The national spotlight affect" - I don't know what it is but the Cardinals have a way of blowing leads/not showing up on nationally televised games. Aside from their playoff games and the grandest stage of them all last year, this team folds under the attention. Whether it be the Bears game a few years ago, the season opener in San Francisco two years ago, nearly blowing the game in the winding seconds last year against the Niners, or the blowout against the Colts this year, the Cardinals seem to let the spotlight get to them. They've finally got into a rhythm both on offense and defense, and need to focus on Sunday night to win the game.
Slow the Giants running game - The Cardinals are ranked first against the rush, and it would be highly important to keep things that way when they play the Giants. The Giants running backs are completely opposite with Brandon Jacobs being the bruising runner, and Ahmad Bradshaw being the speedy back. The two differences may give the Cardinals trouble, so they'll need to play their best defensive game. Taking the running game out of the equation would serve big, as the Cardinals could focus on attacking Eli Manning, something the Saints were successful at last week.
Score quickly and early - The Cardinals have took early leads quickly in their last two games. The advantage to a quick score to start the game, is it throws the opponents running game out the window, and causes them to air it out with the Cardinals. It also takes the wind out of the opposing offense before they even have a chance to take the field. If the Cardinals can also come out and score right away, it would take the opposing crowd out of the game, something they'll need in order to get the win on Sunday.
Protect Kurt Warner - This one's going to be huge on the road. Sacks allow the crowd to get into the game, and we all know what happens once Kurt Warner gets rattled. I shiver to think about Levi Brown and Mike Gandy defending Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck - flashbacks against Indy come to mind. The Cardinals need to support our tackles and not leave them on islands. Tight end and running back support will be a big step in the right direction. The Cardinals used two tight end formations 40% of the time against the Seahawks, making the protection noticeably better.
The obvious keys to the game seemed to improve last week(play smart, no red zone turnovers), and some things will never change(limit penalties, improve rushing game). The Cardinals can make a big statement, both to the NFC West and the rest of the nation. Beating a valid team on the road is something the Cardinals can build off of. What are your keys to the game?