The Philadelphia Eagles 2015 regular season football schedule continues this week with a game against the Arizona Cardinals. This game isn't really a must-win situation for the Eagles, but it's chance for them to prove they're a legitimate playoff contender. This will be a really tough challenge for them. In advance of this game, I reached out to our friends over at Revenge of the Birds. Our friend Jess Root (@senorjessroot) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming matchup. Let's take a look at his answers.
1) Why has Bruce Arians been so successful in Arizona? What are his biggest strengths?
Well, easy answer -- he has won. He brings a pedigree of success and is good at communicating with players. He is straight forward and players have no doubt where they stand. The biggest thing is what he has preached has brought success, so there has been no moment in time where the players question him or his system. He is an old-school coach who has adopted some new things. He publicly pushes his great players to be better and publicly protects players who mess up. He holds himself and his players accountable.
2) Chip Kelly said Carson Palmer is in the discussion for being NFL MVP this season. What makes him so good?
Palmer has been great, plain and simple. He has become exactly the guy people believed he could be coming out of USC. He just finally put it together and was in the right situation. There really isn't any weakness to his game. He is a leader. He has the physical traits. He can make every throw. He has amazing ball placement. He is confident. He prepares extremely well and can read and react to what he sees in front of him. Physically, he is stronger and healthier having rehabbed his knee and shoulder. He has great mechanics. He is in a system that pushes his limits and in which he is very comfortable. And that Palmer who makes questionable throws still shows up once in a while, but his consistency has improved tremendously. Over the course of his career, even in his best times, he will have two great games and then a stinker. Now he is having stinkers once in a long while. Plus, he is being protected better. You give him the ability to set his feet and he is as good as any of the "elite" QBs in the league. He has earned the right to be in that conversation.
3) Who is one player you’d steal from the Eagles’ roster?
Fletcher Cox. He is so disruptive. Arizona has Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker, but I don't care. Cox is a wrecking ball. I could take a DeMeco Ryans or Mychael Kendricks, based on improving a position, but Cox makes things go. I like that in a defensive lineman.
4) Can you name one matchup that really favors the Cardinals and one that really favors the Eagles?
On paper, you have to like the Cardinals offense overall. Philly gives up a lot of yards and the Cardinals gain them in bunches. We see the 45 points allowed in two straight weeks and the 20+ the following weeks and see a defense the Cardinals can score on. They are the highest scoring offense in the NFL, after all. They can run the ball well enough and they have been shredding defenses through the air.
Where do the Eagles match up well? Fletcher Cox against the Arizona interior could be fun, especially lining up against the Cards right side, which has been their weakest link overall. Philly has gotten to opposing quarterbacks, and while the Cardinals have avoided sacks, they do give up pressures. That could come into play.
5) Let’s hear a score prediction. Who wins this game and why?
Arizona has been playing playoff-style games against teams who are in playoff contention. They have beaten them all. I expect the same. They have been winning dramatic fashion and I expect it to come down to the wire again. 27-23 Cardinals with the game going down to the final minute.