It feels like it's been forever since the Philadelphia Eagles played a football game. The Birds haven't played since their dominant 27-0 shutout victory over the New York Giants on October 12th. The Eagles enjoyed their Week 7 bye and now find themselves in Arizona to face a 5-1 Cardinals team.
It goes without saying that this is an important game. The Eagles are Cardinals are currently two of the better teams in the NFC, at least in terms of record. As it stands, both teams are competing for a playoff spot and the winner of this game will earn a potentially valuable tie-breaker over the loser. This match-up also marks the first game of a tough final stretch for Philadelphia. It's up to the Eagles to build off of their Week 6 win and prove that they're one of the best teams in the NFL.
Arizona's number one ranked run defense will be a great test for a seemingly rejuvenated Eagles rush attack. LeSean McCoy might not be able to go off for a big day but the Eagles need to at least keep the Cardinals defense honest. It could be up to quarterback Nick Foles to carry the offense should the Arizona run defense prevail. It's hard to be extremely confident in Foles right now. The third-year quarterback has a great chance to quiet previous skepticism by stepping up in this situation.
It will also be interesting to see if the Eagles can sustain the kind of defensive success they had in Week 6. While it would be unreasonable to expect another shutout performance, it would be disappointing to see the Cardinals offense go wild. Arizona has some nice skill players but the offensive line just isn't very great. The Eagles have managed to generate a surprisingly scary pass rush in recent weeks with 16 sacks in just three games. Philadelphia needs to pressure Carson Palmer into making bad decisions.
Ever since this game was first revealed on the Eagles 2014 schedule it seemed like a revenge game of sorts for both sides. Philadelphia jumped out to a 24-7 start when the Eagles and Cardinals played last season only to almost lose control of the lead near the end of the game. The Eagles held on but not without some controversial calls by the officials. Arizona fans felt cheated and Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians complained. For the Eagles, I think of this game like a boxing rematch where the winner feels he needs to beat his opponent a second time just to prove he's really the better fighter.
This game is a hard one to call, especially with the injury status of both Mychal Kendricks and Darren Sproles being relatively unknown. Both players were ruled questionable and it seems like there's a chance at least one might play, but it's really just a guessing game at this point. The Eagles have been able to get by without Kendricks through four games but Sproles has been really valuable on both offense and special teams. He's a "special dude", as Nick Foles would say.
I think it'll be close either way (so take the points), but I do think the Eagles are the better team. I think Philadelphia gets a quality win here.
What do you think? Will the Eagles come out on top?
Bold prediction: Riley Cooper catches two touchdown passes