Nationally, here’s not that much intrigue when the 2-12 New York Giants take on the 6-8 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium.
But for the New York Giants, it’s a chance to win their first conference game of the season and to see how their second-year wide receiver Sterling Shepard does against one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Last week against the Eagles, Shepard tied a career high with 11 receptions for 139 receiving yards and a touchdown. His performance was one of the main reasons Eli Manning threw for a season-high 434 yards. In attempt to slow down the Giants passing attack, expect the Cardinals to put star cornerback Patrick Peterson on Shepard.
Peterson has been named to the Pro Bowl in all seven of his seasons in the NFL. His coverage skills are phenomenal as he covers opponents’ best receivers on the outside and in the slot.
He’s already covered top receivers this season such as T.Y. Hilton, Dez Bryant, Doug Baldwin, and DeAndre Hopkins, holding all of them to under 100 receiving yards.
He has only one interception on the season, but that’s because quarterbacks shy away from challenging him. Manning has never been one to shy away from throwing to his favorite targets, no matter who may be covering them.
This will be a huge test for Shepard, who has had an up and down sophomore season dealing with migraines and a sprained ankle. Ever since Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the season in Week 5, he and Evan Engram have been Manning’s go-to guys.
Despite playing in only 10 games this season, Shepard is second on the team in receptions with 54 and receiving yards with 686.
If he can be elusive and win his share of one-on-one battles against Peterson, the Giants stand a good chance of winning. If Peterson shuts him down and will be another long day for Big Blue.