Giants vs. Cardinals: Preview, prediction, what to watch for

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An inside look at Sunday’s Giants-Cardinals NFL Week 2 matchup in Glendale, Ariz:

Marquee matchup

Cardinals RB James Conner vs. Giants MLB Bobby Okereke

This will not be a one-on-one battle, of course, but Okereke is the centerpiece of the run defense.

Conner is not a star running back — he has never reached 1,000 rushing yards in any of his six NFL seasons — but he figures to be a central figure on an offense that does not want to rely too heavily on the right arm of quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

Conner had 62 yards last week at Washington and caught five passes, though for just 8 yards.

Other than a 25-yard run by Tony Pollard, the Giants were strong against the run versus the Cowboys, with Okereke (five tackles, one forced fumble) fairly quiet in his Giants’ debut.


James Conner
James Conner
AP

Bobby Okereke
Bobby Okereke
Getty Images

Paul’s pick

No team gets a redo or a reset, but the Giants do get to show what they are after putting on display in the opener what they insist they are not.

If this defense cannot hold down the Cardinals, what team can it subdue?

It is time to protect Daniel Jones, put a cohesive offensive attack on the field and find the end zone once or twice, for the first time this season.

Giants 24, Cardinals 16

Four downs

Familiar foe: When he was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator the past few seasons, Jonathan Gannon’s guys gave the Giants fits.


Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon
AP

Gannon is now the Cardinals’ head coach, and he brought his system to Arizona.

There will be plenty of quarters coverage, with four-deep across the back-end, meaning the Giants could be enticed to run the ball.

“They do a good job with the fronts and how they use kind of edge players in different ways to still be strong against the run,’’ Daniel Jones said. “Yeah, they’re smart, they understand what they’re doing and present some problems for the offense that way.’’

Glow in the flow: Mark Glowinski was not supposed to be a major question mark this season for the Giants.

He was signed in 2022 to a three-year contract worth $18.3 million to hold down the right guard spot.


Giants offensive lineman Mark Glowinski recovers a Daniel Jones fumble during the Giants' 40-0 loss to the Cowboys.
Giants offensive lineman Mark Glowinski recovers a Daniel Jones fumble during the Giants’ 40-0 loss to the Cowboys.
Getty Images

The 31-year-old struggled in the opener, allowing three of the Cowboys’ seven sacks, and nine total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

“It was very disappointing,’’ he said. “All I can do is move on from that and be better.’’

The right side of the line, with Glowinski and tackle Evan Neal, is off to a rough start. Neal gave up one sack and eight pressures to the Dallas pass rushers. Shifty, diminutive Cardinals outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck had two sacks last week.

Steer the ship: Everyone looks to see how the man in charge reacts, in good times and in bad times.

There were only bad times after Week 1, and players and coaches alike waited to take their cues from head coach Brian Daboll.

“The biggest thing is, and Dabs hit on this right after the game, you can never let one game beat you twice,’’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. “So, you’ve got a choice in life. Stand up, dust yourself off and go play. That’s what our guys are going to do. I know how they are, and I know how they’ll react to it.’’

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Daboll set the proper tone: “You expect the head coach to be doing those types of things to make sure that the ship is tight and that it’s going in the right direction.”

Look to the vets: Imagine that 40-point shellacking coming in your NFL debut.

“For your first game to go like that, it’s not how you expect your NFL career to start,’’ Saquon Barkley said.

As one of the team captains, Barkley said it was critical to send the right message to the rookies.

In 2018, his first year with the Giants, Barkley observed how Eli Manning handled adversity.

“That was probably one of the biggest things I respected about Eli the most, especially in this market being a quarterback in New York, and at the time, we weren’t having a lot of success,’’ Barkley said. “Dealing with the media, how he would come in every single week, how he would come in every single day.’’

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