Week 15 Matchup: Eagles at Cardinals
They did it...They actually won a game. In an upset win, the Eagles snapped their losing streak and the Saints' winning streak and defeated them 24-21. At this point of the year, it’s beginning to look hopeless when it comes to their chances of making the playoffs and I would not be upset if they didn't. You’d be swimming in a pool of lies if you didn’t think this season was one to forget about. Even if the WFT ends up losing their game on Sunday, if the Eagles lose, it’ll be safe to say they’re eliminated from any chances at the postseason. With three games left of the season, the Eagles are fighting to claim the NFC (L)East or at least a wildcard spot and are headed out west to face..yet another tough team in the Arizona Cardinals. If the Eagles wish to remain in contention, they’ll have to see if they can pull off another upset win. Let’s see what they have in store against the Cardinals in this week's matchup preview.
The Cardinals are a team that relies pretty heavily on the run. They are fourth in rushing and they have some weapons (including their quarterback) that can run the ball with ease. Kenyan Drake is sixth in rushing with 848 yards and has been a workhorse for the team all year. Over his past four games, he's scored four rushing touchdowns. He's also seen over 20 rushing attempts in two of his past three games. With Chase Edmond currently questionable this week due to an ankle injury, you can expect to see an increase in carries from Drake and possibly more targets in the passing game.
Quarterback Kyler Murray is currently not too far from Drake in rushing yards this season, as he’s been able to total 712. Murray and Drake have combined for 19 of the team’s 20 rushing touchdowns. Murray is averaging 6.2 yards per carry on first down, 5.9 on second down, and 5.7 on third down. His double-digit-yard runs have been spread out. He’s got 10 on first down, nine on second down, eight on third down, and two on fourth down. Quarterbacks have run for 364 yards against the Eagles this season. He may be a threat when it comes to running the ball, but when it comes to passing it he’s been average at best. He is only 19th in the league in passing, with a 67.0 completion percentage and a 7.0 yards-per-attempt average.
Tight end Dan Arnold has become a bigger part of the offense in recent weeks, catching four touchdowns in the last four games. This season he’s had 42 receptions, 548 yards, and seven touchdowns. The Cardinals’ other two wideouts in 11-personnel are Christian Kirk and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. Kirk has six touchdowns catches, but none in the last five games. He averaged just 7.5 yards per catch in those five games. The 37-year-old Fitzgerald has 45 catches but is averaging only 7.7 yards per catch and doesn’t have a touchdown reception yet.
Haason Reddick had a game to remember last week against the Giants. He set the Cardinals franchise record by sacking Daniel Jones five times. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph moved Reddick to his natural spot as an outside linebacker, and his production has exploded. Reddick's improvement is one big reason the Cardinals have improved so much on defense. They were one of the worst units in the NFL last season, but this year rank in the middle of the pack in most categories.
Like I had said earlier, the chances of the Eagles making the playoffs are beginning to look slim, but if they win this Sunday and the WFT and Giants lose, then they are standing on top of this joke of a division yet again and could control their own destiny.
The Eagles had rushed the ball often last week against the Saints. In fact, it happened to be the most rushing yards they’ve clocked in over six years. Although his passing numbers were average, Jalen Hurts showed everyone what he can do when he runs the ball. Hurts had seven of the Eagles’ 11 rushing first downs in their win against the Saints and just four of his runs were scrambles and the other 11 were designed runs or zone-reads. Even though his passing numbers were meh, the plus side of it was we did not see him get sacked or picked off once… yes you read that right. Hurts can extend plays, which will pose the same type of problems for the Cardinals defense that their own quarterback, Kyler Murray, will pose for the Eagles.
Miles Sanders had one of his most productive games of the season, rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Sanders is averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry. But if you take out the three long runs, that average drops to 4.0. In his last seven games, Sanders averaged just 11.6 carries. He had just two games with more than 15 carries. The Cardinals have given up 44 runs of 10 yards or more, including 17 in their last couple of games. With Slay generally covering the other team’s top wideout, the Eagles have played a lot more man coverage this year than they have in the past under Schwartz’s regime. But because of the injuries to Slay, Rodney McLeod and Avante Maddox, they might have to change the lookup quite a bit.
I’m still on the Wentz Wagon and will continue to be a big supporter of Carson, but it’ll be interesting to see this matchup against two speedy quarterbacks. The Eagles gave us some hope in their upset last week, so it’ll be interesting to see if they carry that momentum across the country when they show up to Glendale, Arizona. Kickoff is scheduled at 4:05PM.