The Philadelphia Eagles face a tough matchup this Sunday as the surging Arizona Cardinals visit Lincoln Financial Field. Arizona boasts a four game win streak and most recently destroyed the Indianapolis Colts 40-11 while outgaining them 410-239 yards. Arizona is finding ways to win, and in this league that is what matters most.
While the Cardinals certainly look to be on a winning tear in the highly competitive NFC-West division, they also have some weaknesses on offense which the Philadelphia Eagles defense can exploit.
Capitalize on an Inconsistent Carson Palmer
Former University of Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer has been anything but consistent this year. He has thrown for 2,887 yards but has 16 touchdowns to 15 interceptions ratio which could mean a big interception game for the Eagles secondary. Both Philadelphia defensive ends Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton should be able to apply pressure to Palmer forcing him into bad decisions with the ball.
Snuff the Cardinals Below-Average Running Attack
Arizona ranks 25th in the NFL with just 976 rushing yards and 28th with a low 3.7 yards per average run. They brought in Rashard Mendenhall to be their workhorse back, but he has a terrible 3.0 yards per carry average and has been losing carries every game to rookie Andre Ellington. While the Eagles run defense has not been stellar this year ranking 20th allowing 1296 yards on the ground, they should be able to stop a very weak Cardinals running game thus placing most of the burden on the afore mentioned susceptible arm of Carson Palmer.
Shut Down Larry Fitzgerald
Throughout his career, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league and many see him as a sure-fire future Hall-of-Famer. However, this season Fitzgerald has been somewhat overshadowed by Arizona second year wideout Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald has a lower than normal 50 catches for 606 yards and will be shadowed by Eagles standout cornerback Cary Williams. Williams has the size, speed, and athleticism to match up well with Fitzgerald.
Fresh off the bye week and, according to Eagles coach Chip Kelly, having 52 of 53 players healthy against the Cardinals should be a huge advantage. The Eagles high powered offense led by quarterback Nick Foles (152.8 QB rating ranks highest ever in the month of November) and NFL leading rusher LeSean McCoy will push the Cardinals. If the Eagles defense can capitalize on the opportunities Arizona’s offensive weaknesses provide; this game should be a Philadelphia win.
Follow Matt Thornton on Twitter: @MattThorntonNFL