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Eagles offense vs. Cardinals defense preview by the numbers

Arizona Cardinals v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Another week, another stats preview using Sports Info Solutions as always. I am going to slightly change it up this week and look at both Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals tendencies first with a bit of analysis, then look at the advanced stats of both teams and finally look at a few specific matchups that interest me. Let me know if you prefer the layout!

Eagles Offense Tendencies

No huge surprises here, the Eagles remain an 11-personnel team. However, we have seen them start to run more 2 and 3 tight end sets and this is highlighted here. 22 snaps with 13 personnel rank as the 7th-highest team and I think we will continue to see this in short yardage and on the goalline.

The Eagles remain a no-huddle shotgun offense and the spread-to-run approach has been very effective. We have seen a little bit less play-action of late and still not a lot of motion. The RPO numbers are very high and that’s not surprising considering how successful Hurts has been with them.

Finally, it’s incredible to me that teams continue to play light boxes against the Eagles and the Eagles continue to run all over light boxes. The Eagles are still a zone run team but we did see some gap runs last week, the Sanders 5-yard touchdown on the goalline comes to mind.

Cardinals Defense Tendencies

The Cardinals' defense is pretty funky. The personnel looks like a lot of base, but part of the 344 includes Isaiah Simmons as a linebacker when in reality, he is more of a safety. You also see a lot of formations with only 2 defensive linemen as they love to have a lot of players standing up rather than with their hands in the dirt in order to keep an offense guessing over who is blitzing.

The Eagles will be excited by this one. The Cardinals use a light box a lot. In fact, they barely ever stack the box. The Eagles are going to fancy their chances running against a light box. The Cardinals like to have a light box because they want to play 2-high coverages, which is very common in the modern NFL.

The Cardinals play a lot of 2-high zone coverage as a lot of modern defenses do but they will throw in some man coverage too. The one that really stands out here is the blitz. The Cardinals have the 4th highest blitz rate and considering how poor the Eagles have been against the blitz recently, expect to see a lot of blitzes.

Eagles Offense Stats

  • 6.1 yards per play (5th)
  • 0.120 EPA per play (5th)
  • 28.8 points per game (4th)
  • 165.3 rushing yards per game (4th)
  • 4.3 yards per rush (18th)
  • 0.027 EPA per rush attempt (6th)
  • 270 passing yards per game (6th)
  • 9.1 yards per attempt (1st)
  • 0.194 EPA per pass attempt (4th)
  • 6.82% sack rate (21st)
  • 0.5 giveaways per game (1st)

Cardinals Defense Stats

  • 342 yards per game (17th)
  • 0.047 EPA per play (21st)
  • 6.1 yards per play (27th)
  • 87 rushing yards per game (5th)
  • 4.3 yards per rush (15th)
  • -0.226 EPA per rush (3rd)
  • 255 passing yards per game (23rd)
  • 7.4 yards per pass attempt (25th)
  • 0.19 EPA per pass attempt (19th)
  • 1.5 turnovers per game (12th)
  • 2.8% sack rate (32nd)

Key Matchups

Watch out for the Blitz

As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals have the 4th highest blitz rate in the NFL this year. The Eagles have struggled against the blitz. This seems like an obvious point... but expect the Cardinals to blitz. The good news? The Cardinals haven’t actually been very good when blitzing this year, despite the fact they love to do it. The Cardinals have allowed 36 receptions (1st) when sending 5 or more rushers for 353 yards (4th) and 6 TDs (1st) for 0 interceptions. Yikes. They do have 22 pressures when sending 5 or more rushers which ranks 8th but that isn’t impressive considering how often they blitz.

I doubt this is the week the Cardinals become more conservative considering the Eagles have been poor against the blitz recently but the Eagles could use the Cardinals aggressiveness to their advantage.

Time for Play-Action?

The Eagles offense has been good with play-action this year. The Cardinals defense has not been good at stopping play-action. I like this combination! The Eagles are 25/35 on play-action throws, for 395 yards (3rd) despite only having the 13th most attempts. On the other hand, the Cardinals have allowed a pretty remarkable 52 completions (2nd) on play-action, for 601 yards (2nd) and 6 TDs (1st). That’s not good!

In the last 2 weeks, the Eagles have not ran play-action that much but when they have, they have been incredibly effective. Just look at some of these plays! Also - look at how many of these plays are on 1st and 10.

This week could be the time to run a lot more play-action.

QB Runs

So, this is quite an interesting stat. The Cardinals have been exceptionally good as a defense at not allowing quarterback runs to hurt them. They have allowed only 7 qb runs for 16 yards this year, which is the best in the NFL. They haven’t played a ‘running’ quarterback (Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, Baker Mayfield) but still. Mahomes has over 65 rushing yards this year and Carr had 70 rushing yards in week 4 alone. The Eagles will obviously have more quarterback carries this week, but it’s worth noting the despite blitzing a lot, the Cardinals have not allowed quarterbacks to escape and hurt them on the ground. It’s also probably due to the fact that teams have beat them in the air very easily... but it’s still something to keep an eye on.

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