In order to preview the (good) Birds’ matchup against the (bad) Birds, I reached out to our enemies over at Revenge Of The Birds. The wonderful Seth Cox (@SCoxFB) kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. For my responses to Seth’s question, go check out his post over at ROTB.
1 - I look at the Cardinals and see they’re 2-2 but I can’t help but point out both of their wins came in overtime against bad teams. Is this Arizona team any good?
They have good parts that is really held back by a combination of bad offensive line play, that then got even worse as injuries just completely overtook them and it got even worse. So, they have quite literally, the worst offensive line in the NFL. Combine that with missing maybe the best running back in the NFL, a 38 year old quarterback and a lot questions at wide receiver and the offense has been bad.
Carson Palmer has played really well the last two games, especially for getting sacked 12 times the last two games and hit an additional 27 times. Not pressured, hit/knocked down 27 times. So over two games Palmer has taken 39 hits. The fact that he is still walking is amazing, so the fact that he has thrown for just under 700 yards, three touchdowns and one interception is downright amazing.
That’s the offense in a nutshell. Defensively, it is a different story. They lack a big play guy to help out Chandler Jones in the front seven. They have a lot of good players, just not one that can take any pressure off Jones. Deone Bucannon is back, so maybe he can bring that. In the secondary… They give up a lot of cheapies. A lot. That stems, at least in my opinion, from the inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Which means they are covering for way too long too often.
What it really boils down to, and I could have saved 300 words, is that they are a bend but don’t break defense, who needs to be a dominant, shutout type defense with how bad the offense is.
2 - It seems like the Cardinals are dealing with some issues on the offensive line. What’s going on there?
D.J. Humphries and Mike Iupati have both been out since week one. In fact, Humphries has played eight snaps on the season before his knee injury. Iupati is probably the toughest player I have ever covered, they finally shut him down because the bone spur in his elbow had to be fixed or it would have torn the tendon. He wanted to play on Sunday mind you.
Then they brought in Alex Boone, a veteran to kind of ease the loss of Iupati and help out whenever Humphries got back, and he got hurt in his first game and is out for another week (pec strain).
So they have a backup left guard playing left tackle, and a rookie left tackle who wasn’t anywhere near ready, playing left guard. They brought Earl Watford back, he was with the Cardinals the last four seasons, and he has experience at left guard, right guard and right tackle.
Then there is the trio of A.Q. Shipley, Evan Boehm and Jared Veldheer. In a word… awful. Veldheer had his best game since his move to right tackle this last week, but Shipley and Boehm maybe had their worst.
So, basically you have a bunch of players who are playing bad, but no options to replace them because the replacements are all starting in positions they aren’t supposed to be starting at or backing up. It is basically a dumpster fire right now.
3 - What’s your confidence level in Carson Palmer?
I have been someone who has always been hard on Palmer, but this has honestly been the most impressive two games I have ever seen from him. He physically isn’t the same quarterback throwing outside the numbers, but the fact that he has completed 62.6% of his passes on 98 attempts and at least 110 dropbacks with sacks included, for a 38-year-old, damn that’s impressive.
He’s a guy at this stage who can keep you in games and maybe win a couple for you. He has won them two, he is not the reason they lost to Dallas, that was the defense, but he was the reason they lost to Detroit. My confidence level is, outside of maybe Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, I don’t know a quarterback who could survive what Palmer has the last two weeks.
4 - How does the Markus Golden injury impact a Cardinals defense that seems to be the strength of the team?
Well, they haven’t been doing much rotating at the position, so it is going to be a massive question mark moving forward. It will start with likely some Kareem Martin, who had played 14 snaps the first three games and then 13 after the injury. The real plan seems to be moving versatile first round rookie Hasson Reddick outside and letting Deone Bucannon take over inside. It may not be all Reddick, but he will likely get the bounty of time. Of course, in this game, it likely will be Martin first as Bucannon is still getting back into shape and they need too much of Reddick at inside linebacker.
The bigger question is, who steps up at the secondary pass rusher. Chandler Jones has four sacks on the season, but no one else has more than one. Who gets the push? We have all been waiting on 2016 first round pick Robert Nkemdiche, we will see if we still are waiting come this Sunday as he re-aggravated a calf injury in practice last week and missed the game against the 49ers.
If they can’t generate a pass rush against Wentz and the Eagles, a tough task for any team, the secondary could be in a for a long day.
5 - What’s one matchup that really favors the Eagles? And one that really favors the Cardinals?
The biggest matchup advantage for the Eagles is their front four against the Cardinals offensive line. When I say advantage, I mean a massive advantage. The Cowboys pass rush, who is inferior, won consistently with three pass rushers. The 49ers pass rush, who is inferior, won from nearly every position on the field. Now, the Cardinals have to find a way to contain Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and company. If they can keep the sacks + hits under 10 this game, it is a win.
For the Cardinals, they do a great job against the run, but the biggest advantage is whoever Patrick Peterson is on. That’s the biggest advantage every game, in any stadium they walk into, no matter who is across from him.
Bonus: Who wins this game and why? What’s your score prediction?
Eagles. The Cardinals struggle in early east coast games traditionally, they struggle protecting the quarterback and the Eagles have maybe the best pass rush in the NFL. If the Cardinals can develop any type of run game, we could get an intriguing game. Either way, I feel like this is the Eagles game.
Eagles 24 - Cardinals 15