The Cardinals were once a chief rival of the Giants during the old layout of the NFC East. But even though that rivalry has waned since the Birds relocated to the NFC West, it doesn’t mean the Giants will take Sunday’s opponent lightly.
They know an 0-2 hole to start the season — and two conference losses at that — could already hinder any chance of earning a postseason berth.
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Metro looks at three tings to watch for as the Giants host the Cardinals (1 p.m., FOX).
1. Pressure and more pressure
The Giants’ secondary is improved although Monday night’s performance may say otherwise. But if they intend on thwarting the uptempo Cardinals’ attack, they will need to get pressure on Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. The veteran passer has had a bit of a resurgence since head coach Bruce Arians took over last season and with great weapons like wideouts Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and rookie John Brown — not to mention all-purpose back Andre Ellington — Palmer could have a field day if Big Blue fails to get pressure and collapse the pocket.
2. Here we go again?
The Giants have seen this story before, just last season when they started that campaign 0-6 mostly via one-sided losses. Head coach Tom Coughlin said he initially planned on talking to the team about their psyche compared to last season, but decided to not open old wounds. But how will the Giants react if things snowball out of hand early and the crowd turns on them in their home opener? Will this veteran squad wilt as it did in Detroit or continue to fight back and not get run off the field for the second straight week? The opening quarter may already be the team’s most important frame of the season.
3. Chuck and duck
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been under siege since the beginning of last season. And despite general manager Jerry Reese’s efforts to shore up the offensive line, Manning is still throwing almost exclusively from the seat of his pants. The upgrades haven’t been visible yet, as left tackle Will Beatty has been mediocre at best, second-year right tackle Justin Pugh didn’t have the best of games last week and the interior threesome of center J.D. Walton, rookie guard Weston Richburg and veteran guard John Jerry were all mistreated last week by Detroit’s vaunted front four. Fortunately for the Giants, the Cardinals’ front-seven has been decimated by injuries and a suspension, so there could be hope for New York’s patchwork unit up front to actually protect Manning and let him get out of his rut.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.