DVOA analysis of the game

To start off with, no analysis of the upcoming game can begin without a look at how Arizona beat Carolina.  Obviously, this was a huge upset, the biggest of the playoffs.  Were there any signs of such a thing happening?

Well, looking first at Arizona's defense vs. Carolina's offense, we see that Carolina both ran and passed well (#9 passing and #3 running) while Arizona were average defending the run (#15 run D) and they were truly terrible against the pass (#23).  If you can stop the run, then you have a chance any given week, depending on how the opposing QB plays.  We all know how Delhomme blew up, and I think his meltdown helped cover up some of the weaknesses of the Arizona defense.

The terrible game the Panther's offense had helped the Zona offense a lot, too.  They are a team which is really good at the pass (#7) and terrible at the run (#28).  Carolina was only an average defense overall, and their better performance against the pass than the run was offset by an incredible day by one receiver and great field position Arizona enjoyed all day. 

My take on the game is that the combination of Jake's historically bad day and the average defense overall of the Panthers made for a shocking result.

So, how can we use this to forcast to Sunday's game?  First of all, the Eagles are a much better defense than the Panthers, in every aspect (#3 against the run, pass, and overall).  We are not as good against #1 WR's, though (#13), which could mean for another big day from Fitzgerald.  We can only hope this does not lead to big days from other Cardinals, but hopefully Fitz won't beat us all by himself.

Looking at the other side of the ball, The Eagles are not as good as the Panthers on offense, we rank #13 pass and #11 run.  Zona has a terrible pass defense pretty much against every type of receiver, which is good for a team which spreads the ball around as much as we do.  The only receivers they are even average against are #2 WRs and RBs.  Given this and the fact that they are average against the run, I wouldn't look for a breakout game from Westbrook here, although given he is who he is, I wouldn't really be that suprised.

On the special teams side, The Eagles are average overall and good in KO and Punt returns, while the Cards are pretty bad accross the board.  We may see a big day from Jackson or Demps, too.

Bottom line, the two key players in this game are McNabb and Fitzgerald.  Assuming McNabb doesn't melt down like Delhomme, and assuming Fitz doensn't have another ridiculous game against a much better defense, I can't see how the numbers add up to anything but an Eagles win.  I think the Eagles would have to turn the ball over quite a bit and completely lay an egg on offense for the Cards to win Sunday.

My prediction:

Eagles 31

Cards 24

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