Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals At Philadelphia Eagles
- QuarterbackCarson Palmer has turned his season around in the most unexpected of fashions. After throwing a ton of interceptions early in the year, the game has slowed down for Palmer and he has stopped making crucial mistakes. Palmer is playing his best football of the year and he has not thrown a pick in either of his last two games and he has won the confidence of head coach Bruce Arians and his teammates.The Eagles appeared to be at the bottom of the barrel in late October when they could not get in the endzone and lost another home game against the New York Giants. Since that game, the Eagles have turned things around with Nick Foles at quarterback. Foles is completing 63.6 percent of his passes and has a shocking 16-0 TD-interception ratio.
- OffenseThe Cardinals are one of the most surprising stories of the year and they are doing it without a credible running game. Rashard Mendenhall shuns contact and that’s not a good thing when you run the ball for a living. Malcolm Floyd has become an excellent receiver who has caught 49 passes for 761 yards and three touchdowns. He is the perfect complement to Larry Fitzgerald, who has eight TD receptions.One of the primary reasons that Foles has been so successful has been the cast of explosive talent he gets to work with on a regular basis. LeSean McCoy may be the most versatile running back in the league. Not only can he run inside or outside, he is dangerous as a receiver. DeSean Jackson is a burner who is one of the top big-play threats in the league. Riley Cooper has seven TD catches.
- DefenseThe Cardinals have been very aggressive on the defensive side of the ball and they rank seventh in yards allowed and second in rushing defense. Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby is the team’s backbone with 88 tackles and 16 passes defensed . Hard-hitting free safety Tyrann Mathieu has 65 tackles and 10 passes defensed. Outside linebacker has a team-high 7.0 sacks.The Eagles could have huge problems against the Cardinals since they rank 31st overall and 32nd against the pass. Philadelphia’s defense does not put enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks and it lacks overall speed. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans is perhaps the unit’s best player as he leads the Eagles with 96 tackles. Unheralded outside linebacker Connor Barwin has a team-high 4.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Cardinals have done a decent job in their special teams coverage, but they have not gotten the big plays from explosive Patrick Peterson or Javier Arenas that they have been expecting. Placekicker Jay Feely has a strong leg and he is enjoying another consistent season, having made 22-of-24 FG attempts.The Eagles have had some problems with their coverage units, particularly against teams with fast kickoff returners. Philadelphia’s Damaris Johnson is just an ordinary returner. Alex Henery is a below average kicker, having made 17-of-22 FG attempts this season.
This could turn out to be one of the most exciting games of the weekend because both Palmer and Foles are at the top of their game. Look for Palmer to take advantage of the Eagles’ soft defense and Arizona will come away with the road win.