What Wolf is watching for when the Cardinals take on the Giants in Week 7
The Arizona Cardinals hit the road for their Week 7 contest against the New York Giants in the Meadowlands on Sunday.
Both teams come into the game with two wins apiece, but it’s the Cardinals that are riding a two-game winning streak while the Giants are on the heels of their second consecutive loss.
The two sides will be deploying rookie quarterbacks in No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones.
Both teams will also have key players returning to their starting lineups, as Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and tight end Evan Engram (knee) are coming back from injury, while Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson comes off his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy.
Arizona desperately needs help in an injury-riddled secondary that has allowed the most passing touchdowns (16) in the league this season.
On Friday’s 98.7 Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf Show, Ron Wolfley dished out what he’ll be watching out for on Sunday.
How much will Giants DC James Bettcher come after Kyler Murray?
Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher is a disciple of former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Bettcher’s philosophy is to close the middle of the field with a safety and play man coverage in order to send multiple blitz packages and pressure.
Teams haven’t pressured Murray as much as Wolf expected six games in the season, perhaps in fear of his running ability, but that won’t stop the Giants from picking the weak link on the Cardinals’ offensive line and trying to exploit that matchup.
“They’ll go over one guy, pick him out and blitz that guy’s gap over and over and over again,” Wolf said. “But flustering a rookie, getting after a rookie and seeing what he’s made of is rule No. 1 in the NFL and I imagine James Betcher will pick his spots to do just that.”
How balanced will Kliff Kingsbury keep the offense?
The Giants are one of only two teams to allow more passing yards per game and per play than the Cardinals this season.
Wolf said that Kingsbury has done a great job this season putting Murray in a balanced offense that the rookie quarterback has excelled in.
Murray’s numbers have actually been better when the Cardinals use one or more tight ends.
So will Kingsbury keep a balanced offense on Sunday, or will the alure of the league’s No. 31 pass defense lead to more of a passing attack?
Will the Cardinals be able to tackle Saquon Barkley?
There’s no doubt that Barkley is one of the best running backs in the NFL.
And after having missed the last three games, head coach Pat Shurmur will be looking to get his No. 1 ball-carrier involved early and often both on the ground and in the passing game.
Wolf will be watching out for the Cardinals’ ability to tackle the 230-pounder, as Arizona has struggled to consistently bring opponents down on a game-by-game basis.
Will the Cardinals get their first interception of the season?
The Cardinals have failed to force a single interception through six games this season and are the only team in the NFL that has yet to get a takeaway through the air.
But New York’s rookie quarterback has thrown six picks in his last three games.
Wolf said that it remains to be seen how much the defense will change upon Peterson’s return, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the eight-time Pro Bowler was able to get the Cardinals’ first interception of the year.
“His ball-hawking ways might be in the head of Daniel Jones, and for that matter, maybe even Pat Shurmer,” Wolf said.
Markus Golden vs. D.J. Humphries
There is one individual matchup that Wolf will be watching for in Week 7: Cardinals offensive tackle Humphries vs. Giants linebacker Golden.
The former Cardinals pass-rusher already has five sacks, 11 QB hits and three tackles for loss this season.
Arizona has only allowed one sack in its last two games after allowing 20 in its first four.
Keeping Murray clean will be a deciding factor in who will come out with their third win of the year on Sunday.