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Wulf's Den: Going For Four Straight - Bo Wulf, PE.com
On Sunday, the Eagles return to action after their bye week with an eye on keeping pace atop the NFC East with the 7-5 Dallas Cowboys. Coming to Lincoln Financial Field will be the red-hot 7-4 Arizona Cardinals, winners of four straight games. The Eagles, meanwhile, will be looking to win their fourth straight game as they head into the final quarter of the season. Cementing that four-game winning streak would self-evidently improve the Eagles' playoff chances. And it may be obvious, but teams that can win four games in a row are generally playoff bound. Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams in 2002, there have been 441 four-game winning streaks, counting any stretch of four straight wins as a separate streak. Only 59 of those, 13.3 percent, have been accomplished by non-playoff teams.
BLG Note: Must read Donnie Jones interview at the bottom of this column. This weekly feature on PE.com is always a great post. 100% BLG approved.
The 2013 Eagles and the Criteria of a Super Bowl Contender - Advanced NFL Stats
At first glance, the Eagles are nothing like those teams. At 6-5, they're not even locks to make the playoffs, and Philly will almost certainly be playing on Wild Card weekend if they squeak in. Moreover, while Nick Foles has been brilliant, LeSean McCoy and his NFC-leading EPA per play mark makes Philadelphia one of the league's few ground games that provides substantial value. Of course, Philly pairs that with a defense that's one of the worst against the pass, with the fifth-lowest success rate. That's an incredibly difficult handicap to overcome; and yet, the Eagles have been in the top 10 of the team efficiency rankings all season long. Thus, the numbers imply that Philly is actually a very good team, one capable of challenging for a championship. This is obviously far out of whack with public perception. Such dissonance raises a few important questions, not only about the Eagles themselves, but the type of team that can earn the label of "championship contender" in today's NFL.
Opposition breakdown: 5 notes on the Cardinals' offense - JimmyK, Philly.com
Sunday will be the 6th time Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald will face the Eagles. He has absolutely destroyed the Eagles in the past. The Eagles have a completely new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme, and only three players in the secondary have ever faced Fitzgerald in an Eagles uniform -- Brandon Boykin, Nate Allen, and Kurt Coleman. Boykin and Allen have only faced Fitzgerald once. (Allen missed the 2011 game). The Eagles have never shut Fitzgerald down. It should be noted that Boykin struggled tackling him in Arizona in 2012, but Boykin is a much better player now than he was in Week 3 last season.
Chicken or the Egg? - Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz
Prior to Week 8, the Cardinals had not scored more than 25 points in a game. Since then, the Cards has scored at least 27 points each game. Last week they had a season high 40 points in the win over the Colts. Arizona has had at least 332 yards of offense in each of the last 4 games. The Cards had fewer yards than that in 4 of the first 7 games. So what gives? Has the Cardinals offense gotten better? Or is this due to playing some struggling defenses?
Eagles confident they can handle Cardinals' blitz - Les Bowen, Daily News
The Cards are the blitzingest defense in the NFL, bringing extra pass rushers on 48.9 percent of their defensive snaps this season. In a 34-22 loss to Seattle last month, Arizona blitzed Russell Wilson 21 times on 34 dropbacks, which is a whole darned lot. How the Eagles and Nick Foles handle that pressure might be Sunday's most important question. The good news is that so far this season, Foles has been good under pass-rush pressure, in limited exposure. Pro Football Focus gives him a .676 accuracy percentage in such situations, with two touchdown passes and of course, no picks, because Foles hasn't thrown any picks in the eight games he has played this season (five starts).
Harmony key for Chip Kelly's coaching staff - Reuben Frank, CSN Philly
They came from big-time colleges, from around the NFL and even from a high school athletic director’s office. They range in age from 25 to 70. Some have worked for years with Chip Kelly, others had never met him. There are 23 of them in all, and they comprise Kelly’s first Eagles coaching staff. We’ve spent a lot of time these past 10 months since Kelly replaced Andy Reid talking about the players and the scheme, the tempo and the innovation. But none of it would mean a thing if Kelly hadn’t picked the right staff and – just as importantly – if that staff hadn’t quickly learned to work productively together 16 hours a day, every day.
Cardinals vs. Eagles: 3 keys to an Arizona Week 13 win over Philadelphia - Shaun Church, Revenge of the Birds
This week's three keys to an Arizona Cardinals win are special. Not because it's an important road game against the Philadelphia Eagles and improving to 8-4 greatly improves Arizona's playoff chances, but because someone will be held to his word if and when it happens. But we'll get to that; first, let's discuss this game. The Cardinals (7-4) are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, having won four straight games by an average of greater than two touchdowns. The offense is finally complimenting the stellar defensive play, and it's turned Arizona into a scary-good team. The Eagles (6-5) are riding a three-game winning streak of their own and have demolished opponents by an average of 17 points per game. The difference for them has been second-year quarterback Nick Foles, who has thrown 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions this season. Foles leads the NFL with his 128.0 passer rating. The key to both offenses' recent success has been the passing game, and that will be the key this week for the winner of this game.