Giants: 3 keys to beating the Cardinals in Week 2

new york giants, saquon barkley
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) looks on during warmups before a wild card game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are seeking their first win of the season this afternoon after being blown out at home in Week 1. Traveling to Arizona to face the Cardinals in Week 2, the Giants are the favorites to win this Sunday despite their 40–0 loss last weekend. But in order for Big Blue to get the win over the Cardinals, they need to focus on three keys to victory.

Slow down Dennis Gardeck

The Giants need to slow down Cardinals LB Dennis Gardeck if they want to win this afternoon. Gardeck is coming off an elite performance against the Washington Commanders in Week 1. Last week, he recorded four total tackles, two sacks, three QB hits, and one tackle for loss. One of Gardeck’s sacks forced a fumble, leading to a scoop and score for the Cardinals’ defense.

The last time New York faced Arizona, Gardeck had a similar performance as he led the Cardinals to victory. Gardeck totaled two sacks, two quarterback hits, and recovered a fumble against the Giants in Week 14 of the 2020 season.

With the Giants’ offensive line struggling the way it has been, slowing down Gardeck is a necessity in Week 2.

Feed Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley needs to be the focal point of the Giants’ offense in Week 2. New York’s offensive line is in rough shape after surrendering seven sacks in Week 1 and with star LT Andrew Thomas questionable to play in today’s matchup. The best way to mitigate this team’s weakness in pass protection is to keep the ball on the ground.

Barkley looked like his old self in Week 1; when given the chance. He rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries against the Cowboys, including an electric 18-yard gain. Coming off a career year in 2022, rushing for a career-high 1,312, Barkley is aiming to continue his dominance this season. However, the Giants will need to give him more opportunities and feed him the rock this afternoon to take advantage of a battered Arizona Cardinals defense.

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The Giants’ run defense needs to slow down James Conner

The Cardinals’ offense may not be a star-studded lineup, however, they do have a premier rusher in the backfield with RB James Conner. In Week 1, Conner was Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded running back, posting an 83.3 overall grade. He took 14 carries, rushing for 62 yards in the contest.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back averaged 60.2 rushing yards per game and 23.1 receiving yards per game last season. Conner is a three-down back with the ability to make plays in both facets of the game.

In Week 1, Big Blue surrendered 122 yards and three rushing touchdowns to the Cowboys. In 2022, the Giants’ run defense was one of the worst in the NFL, surrendering an average of 144.2 rushing yards per game (ranking 27th). Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale needs his unit to turn things around in Week 2 to secure the crucial victory against the Cardinals.