The Arizona Cardinals just keep putting distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC West.
Arizona beat the Oakland Raiders 24-13 on Sunday, and thanks to some timely losses by other divisional foes, the Cardinals now have a one and a half game lead in the division. The Cardinals used a huge performance by Andre Ellington to control the game, with the running back racking up 160 yards from scrimmage in the win.
Starting this week though, the schedule makes it much harder to maintain the NFC West’s lead.
The Cardinals host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, who are currently sporting the same impressive record as Arizona with both teams sitting at 5-1.
Much more intimidating than the Eagles’ record though, is that Philadelphia is coming off of their bye week. Over the last 15 seasons, the Eagles are 14-1 coming off of that mid-season break.
This year Arizona will attempt to do what they couldn’t in 2013: upend Philadelphia after a week off. The Cardinals lost to the Eagles 24-21 last season, becoming the latest victim to Philadelphia after two weeks of preparation and rest.
While the Cardinals prepare for their daunting matchup this week, we’ll bring all the Eagles news from behind enemy lines:
Saturday, October 25
• Cardinals receivers likely to test Eagles again (Philly.com)
The Eagles want to avoid giving up the big play to Cardinals receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on Sunday. Philadelphia hopes its physical corners are up to the task.
• Patchwork O-line a big reason Eagles are 5-1 (CSN Philadelphia)
Philadelphia has used more offensive linemen this season (11) than they’ve allowed sacks (7). The offensive line’s success despite heavy turnover is a big reason the Eagles are 5-1.
• This Time, Defense Must Deal With Ellington (PhiladelphiaEagles.com)
Andre Ellington missed one game last season — it happened to be the Eagles game in Week 13. Now, the Eagles want to find a way to beat the Cardinals with Ellington on the field.
• Chip Kelly’s optimal time of possession (Philly.com)
Six minutes of offense per quarter may be enough for the Eagles to win on Sunday. Chip Kelly is 51-4 in his Oregon/Eagles head coaching career when his team has 24 minutes or more of time of possession.
• Eagles-Cardinals: 5 things to focus on (CSN Philadelphia)
It’s an offense vs. defense matchup as the Eagles put their run game, led by LeSean McCoy, against the Cardinals’ stout run defense.
Friday, October 24
A return to form for one Cardinals receiver, a streak ending for Philadelphia, and a slew of quarterback pressures could be in store for the matchup in the desert.
• Eagles’ offense needs to reverse its awful redzone futility (Philly.com)
The Eagles’ redzone offense currently ranks last in the NFL, scoring a touchdown on just 40 percent of their trips inside the 20. To avoid falling from the top of the conference, they will need to return to their great redzone play from the end of 2013.
• Eagles offense absent of big plays without DeSean Jackson (Philly.com)
Philadelphia’s offense was always a downfield threat in 2013, with star wide receiver DeSean Jackson stretching defenses and creating quick scoring opportunities. With Jackson in Washington, the Eagles offense can’t find a way to get those game-breaking plays.
• Eagles expecting a quick-adjusting Cardinals defense (ESPN.com)
The Eagles have constant success with their fast-paced offense, making defenses keep the wrong personnel on the field. In last season’s matchup, the Cardinals changed their style to stop the Philadelphia offense and attempt a comeback. This time Eagles coach Chip Kelly won’t be caught off-guard by Arizona’s mid-game changes.
• Matchup between Maclin and Peterson will be game changer (CSN Philly)
With 445 receiving yards and four touchdowns through six games, Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has not been an easy task for defenses this season. Enter Cardinals Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson, who will make this wide receiver-cornerback clash a crucial factor in Sunday’s outcome.
Thursday, October 23
• Eagles may finally have another top-notch defense (Bleeding Green Nation)
Inconsistency would be the best word for the Eagle’s defense since 2008, when the team lost long-time defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. After a multitude of different coordinators and systems, the Eagles defense may be ready to join the ranks as one of the best in the NFL.
Throughout his coaching career, Chip Kelly has been known to make his tight ends a crucial part of the offense. Now matched up against an Arizona defense that forces passes to the middle of the field, Philadelphia’s tight ends could be a major key in Sunday’s game.
• Eagles could be down to one running back on Sunday (Philly.com)
The Eagles have the NFL’s reigning rushing champ in running back LeSean McCoy, but even he needs other backs to give him time for rest. McCoy may not have this luxury against the Cardinals on Sunday, with Darren Sproles and Chris Polk on the injury report for the game.
• Eagles offense relying on play of center Molk (Philly.com)
Philadelphia center David Molk was given an unenviable task last month, replacing starter Jason Kelce who went down with a groin injury in Week 3. Molk played his best game of the season in Philadelphia’s last matchup against the New York Giants, and will be expected to hold the offensive line together again on Sunday.
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly earned his status as an offensive guru while coaching the University of Oregon for four seasons. With the coach having success in the pro game, leading Philadelphia to a 5-1 start, some still suggest that he would consider a return to college football if offered the job at the University of Florida.
Wednesday, October 22
According to Forbes, Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy is the second most overpaid player in the league, behind only Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin. McCoy’s cap hit is $9.7 million and adds -0.1 wins to his team. He also only has 422 yards and one touchdown for the season.
• For First Time Sunday, It’s Acho Vs. Acho (PhiladelphiaEagles.com)
Emmanuel and Sam Acho are very close, considering they play for opposing teams in the NFL. The two brothers talk all the time, and Emmanuel — a linebacker for the Eagles — has even been giving Sam — an Arizona Cardinal — tips about other NFC East teams. Come Sunday, though, neither brother will be rooting for the other.
• Should the Philadelphia Eagles Keep Marcus Smith at ILB Long Term? (Bleacher Report)
Philadelphia rookie Marcus Smith found it difficult to get playing time at a crowded outside linebacker position. However, injuries at the inside linebacker spot gave Smith a chance to shine. But with Mychal Kendricks’ return, the Eagles will have to decide the best position for Smith.
• What if: LeSean McCoy to Raiders? (ESPN.com)
ESPN proposes the Eagles send LeSean McCoy, linebacker Brandon Graham, and picks to the Raiders for their first round — and potentially No. 1 overall — 2015 pick. This would allow Chip Kelly to reunite with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a good fit with Philadelphia. It also gives the Eagles a chance to part ways with the highly paid McCoy, while helping Oakland in the talent department.
Tuesday, October 21
The Eagles employ one of the most consistent pass rushes in the NFL, averaging 18.8 quarterback pressures per game. With Arizona’s defense still plagued by injuries, Sunday’s key may be Philadelphia’s superior ability to get to the quarterback.
• Three questions for Philadelphia after their bye (CSN Philadelphia)
The 5-1 record may look nice for the Eagles, but with a turnover-prone quarterback, a slow-starting running game and the Dallas Cowboys sitting atop the division, Philadelphia leaves a lot to be answered this week.
• Foles needs to reverse turnover-plagued start (ESPN.com)
Even a year later, the 27:2 touchdown-to-turnover ratio for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in 2013 is still astounding. But Foles already has 10 turnovers through six games and will need to regain the previous season’s form to maintain Philadelphia’s hot start.
• In-depth look at Eagles coach Chip Kelly (Philly.com)
Even after one season and six games in Philadelphia, many are still mystified by Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. With the coach proving to be a quick success at various team’s throughout his career, Philly.com takes a long look at the enigmatic mastermind of Philadelphia lightning-quick offense.