Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles preview
A pair of 2-0 teams will meet Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale when the Arizona Cardinals host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cards will be seeking their first 3-0 start since 1974, while Philadelphia is hoping for their first 3-0 start since 2004.
The Cardinals and Eagles are both coming off exhilarating wins last week. Arizona defeated the heavily-favored Patriots 20-18, due in large part to Ray Horton's defense shutting down superstar quarterback Tom Brady. The Cardinals snapped the Patriots streak of 25 consecutive home games with at least 20 points.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia stunned Baltimore in the game's final minutes when quarterback Michael Vick rushed for the game-winning touchdown, giving the Eagles a 24-23 win.
The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to open a season 2-0 after winning the first two games by only one-point despite committing nine turnovers.
These two teams met last November 13 in Philadelphia, with John Skelton throwing three touchdown passes including the game-winner to Early Doucet with just 1:53 remaining to give the Cardinals a 21-17 win.
Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb will face the Eagles for the first time since being traded in 2010 to Arizona for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick. The Cardinals signed Kolb to a five-year, $63 million contract, which wasn't enough to ensure him the starting quarterback position coming out of training camp. Despite his struggles, Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid had nothing but praise for his former quarterback this week.
Kolb wasn't exceptional against the Patriots last week but he did just enough to lead the Cardinals to victory. He was 15-of-27 for 140 yards with two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing).
His counterpart, and close friend, Vick passed for 371 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against Baltimore. Despite throwing for over 300 yards in both games and his last minute heroics, Vick has committed seven turnovers. He is 52-of-88 for 688 yards with three touchdowns and a league-high six picks on the year.
The last time Vick faced Arizona he rushed for 79 yards, threw for 128 with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The big looming question is the impact of the season-ending injury to Eagles center Jason Kelce. Losing Kelce is a significant blow to the Eagles' offensive line. That unit is facing an Arizona pass rush that sacked Tom Brady four times last week. Protection will be key for Vick to be successful.
Six-time Pro Bowl wideout Larry Fitzgerald is still awaiting an opportunity to explode. He had just one catch for four yards last week against New England. Even with the slow start, the Cardinals are not concerned with his stats. In fact, he is approaching a monumental career milestone. He has 698 catches and stands to be the youngest player to reach 700.
Fitzgerald had 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his last matchup against the Eagles.
Fellow Arizona receiver Andre Roberts has touchdowns in four of the past six games.
But, the Cardinals are going to need more consistent production from their wideouts, to make up for what the running game has lacked. The Cards have still not enjoyed much success from their backs, who collectively have yet to produce a run for more than 20 yards this season.
On the contrary, the Eagles boast a heralded back in LeSean McCoy, who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the last meeting against Arizona. For the season, the 24-year-old McCoy has rushed for 191 yards with one touchdown.
Philadelphia has quite a few other weapons at their disposal offensively. Wideout DeSean Jackson did not play the last time the two teams met, and he could provide the Eagles with a huge advantage this time around. Jackson caught seven passes for 114 yards last week.
The Cardinals will also look to contain red-hot tight end Brent Celek, who is coming off yet another impressive week against Baltimore. He had eight catches for a career-high 157 yards vs. the Ravens and his 222 receiving yards rank fourth in the NFL.
Jeremy Maclin, who has been one of Vick's favorite targets, will not be on the field Sunday as he recovers from a hip injury.
The Cardinals defense continues to garner national attention. Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid called his Week 3 opponent's D one of the league's best units.
They held the Tom Brady-led Patriots to just one offensive touchdown in their upset win. On the season, the Arizona 'D' only allowed two touchdowns and 3.4 yards per carry.
Ray Horton's squad has shown they can effectively stop the pass, which means the ability to contain McCoy will be huge. The Eagles have a mobile quarterback in Vick, who stands to be a threat if he breaks out of the pocket.
Linebacker Daryl Washington leads the league with 21 solo tackles and Calais Campbell, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, had 10 tackles and two sacks against the Patriots.
The Eagles defense, which is coming off a lackluster first season under defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, has impressed so far this season.
In 2012, Philadelphia ranks fourth in total defense, fourth against the pass, second in third down defense, and first in interceptions. They've held opposing quarterbacks to a combined 35.1 passer rating.
Philly's defensive line has undergone significant changes after they lost veteran Mike Patterson to brain surgery. Rookie tackle Fletcher Cox has stepped up in a huge way. He played 51 snaps and had five tackles including one for a loss against the Ravens last week.
The Eagles defense stood up to a fearsome foe in Baltimore, limiting the Ravens to 23 points and showing no signs of the squad that blew an NFL-record five fourth quarter leads last season.
The Cardinals, much like the Eagles, can attribute both of their wins to strong efforts from the defense. The Eagles have overcome inconsistent efforts from their offense, while the Cardinals are still waiting for theirs to jell.
The Eagles' nine turnovers loom large and if the Cardinals defense is able to exploit that this week and continue its mastery of Vick, Arizona should like its chances.
Then again with two strong defenses going toe-to-toe, you have to wonder what will happen when the talented Eagles offense wakes up and plays to their capabilities.
Eagles 21, Cardinals 17
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- Calais Campbell, AZ Cardinals defensive end - Monday May 6Big #93 talks to the guys about the new coaching staff and becoming more of a leader
- Calais Campbell, Cardinals DE - Friday May 3Campbell talks about his inaugural charity golf tournament debuting this weekend. Also, he gives his
- Andre Ellington, Cardinals RB - Thursday May 2Arizona's 6th round pick joins the show to reminisce on his college career and talk about what he br
- Earl Watford, Cardinals 4th Round Selection - Wednesday May 1Earl Watford talked to Doug & Wolf about his strengths and being drafted out of a small school.