The Eagles travel to Arizona to face a Arizona Cardinals team led by a very good defense, a team that most Eagles fans are looking past. As I do weekly, I will break down this matchup and give you my winner.
Philadelphia: The Eagles exploited the Ravens weaknesses in the middle of the field, Brent Celek had 8 catches for 157 yards. Outside of the the interception in the red zone early, Mike Vick played really well. The Eagles play calling was much better last week, they had 41 called run plays vs 34 passes. This week against a underrated Cardinal defense, they will need a similar game plan. The Eagles lost starting center Jason Kelce for the season to a knee injury, and left tackle King Dunlap might be out this week.
Jeremy Maclin has been ruled out with a hip pointer, taking away the Eagles most versatile threat at wide receiver. This week might a be a bit tougher then last, but if the Eagles dedicate themselves to the run, and if Vick sees the blitz, gets the ball out of his hands to the hot receiver, the Eagles can be successful. I think Shady McCoy, especially in the passing game could be the difference.
Let me not forget, the Eagles can not continue to turn the ball over at that rate and win games. Sooner or later it will cost you games.
Arizona: The Cardinals has problems scoring points and it’s main issues are in pass protection and at quarterback. They are ranked at the bottom in the league in all offensive statistical categories, 30th in passing yards per game(175.0) and 28th in rushing(74.0). John Skelton won the quarterback battle during the preseason, but was injured week 1 and Kevin Kolb has since taken over. I’ve seen enough of Kolb to tell you he can’t be an effective starting QB in this league. He doesn’t work well under pressure, and to play quarterback in this league, you must perform in the pocket, with defenders coming to knock your head off.
The Eagles were gashed vs the run last week against the Ravens, but for some reason the Ravens stopped running the ball. For the Cardinals to have any chance of winning this game, they must establish a running game, and stay out of long down and distance situations. Larry Fitzgerald is clearly their best player, but he had only one catch for 4 yards last week. It would be the Cardinals best interest to get him the ball.
Philadelphia: The Eagles defense has been amazing through the first two weeks of the season. Giving just 162.5 yards passing, and 105.p running, they have done a complete 180 compared to last season. Today they should be able to get the best of a weak Cardinal offensive line, especially in the passing game and knock Kevin Kolb around, forcing him into mistakes.
In the first half last week, the Ravens had success running the ball vs the Eagles, but they for some reason went away from it. The Cardinals haven’t done much running the ball during the first two weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them test the Eagles defense out early and often. The Eagles need to do a better job at the point of attack, taking on blocks, shedding them, and making tackles in the hole. I’m also looking forward to seeing who gets the assignment of taking Larry Fitzgerald one on one.
Arizona: The Cards have a good defense, underrated in a sense because majority of football fans don’t pay their team any mind. I watched them on film this past week and came away very impressed, especially with their defensive line. Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, and Darnell Dockett is as good as it gets in the NFL as a front line of a 3-4 defense. Not only do they play the run well, but they push the pocket and make it hard for quarterbacks to step up and make throws.
Eagles tight end Brent Celek had a big game last week against the Ravens, but this week the Cardinals linebackers and Adrian Wilson at safety pose better defenders in the pass game then the Ravens did, especially after Bernie Pollard left the game. Arizona gets pressure with their front 3, but their rush backers needs to get some pressure on Mike Vick as well. Don’t be surprised if they blitz corners and safeties, like other teams, to match Vick’s speed running out of the pocket.
The Cardinals used a lot of zone blitz schemes to confuse Tom Brady and force him to eat the ball and take sacks. Look for them to use a lot of the same principles to make Vick uncomfortable and force him to throw the ball to the opposition.
My Prediction: I believe the Eagles will have a tougher time then most do today, but the Cardinals still have Kevin Kolb at their starting qb and he stinks. Vick and the Eagles must not turn the ball over today if they plan on winning. Eagles 23 Cardinals 20