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Insiders make their final Eagles-Cardinals predictions
The Eagles snapped their 10-game home losing streak two weeks ago with a 24-16 win over the Redskins (see past predictions).
Coming out of the bye week, can the Eagles string together back-to-back wins at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since Weeks 2 and 4 of last season?
Our (cough) experts weigh in:
I'm not nearly as concerned about Arizona's defense as much as I am about Larry Fitzgerald, who has torched the Eagles more times than I can count. I just have a hunch Fitz will find the end zone a few too many times.
Cardinals 26, Eagles 24
The Eagles have lost eight straight games to winning teams, losing those games by an average of 18 points. The Cards are talented, well-coached, deep on both sides of the ball. They're hot. They've made life hell for the Eagles in recent years, winning three straight over Philly starting with the 2008 NFC Championship Game. Logic says the Cards win, but I'm going to stray from my gut instinct here. It's time for a signature win for Chip Kelly's program, and it comes Sunday at the Linc.
Eagles 27, Cardinals 24
This is a tough test for the Eagles. Arizona is playing well on both sides of the ball. The defense is big and fast up front and it has the best cornerback in the game, Patrick Peterson, making plays (three interceptions) in the secondary. Peterson probably will be assigned to cover DeSean Jackson, so that's a matchup to watch. Arizona's defensive coordinator is Todd Bowles, so he has a good book on the Eagles' offensive personnel. Shady McCoy will probably find it tough going against Arizona's stout run defense (second in the NFL).
Carson Palmer has been red hot in the Cardinals' four-game winning streak, but he still takes too many chances. In last week's win over Indianapolis, Palmer threw at least three passes that should have been intercepted, but the Colts' defenders dropped the ball. He will put a few more up for grabs Sunday. The Eagles just have to come down with the ball. In a league where turnovers usually decide who wins and who loses, I'll go with the QB who doesn't throw interceptions (Nick Foles, zero picks) over the one who does (Palmer, 15).
Eagles 21, Cardinals 17
Unlike the three previous defenses the Eagles faced (Raiders, Packers, Redskins) this Arizona defense is legit in all phases. Former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has done a commendable job getting his guys to play as a cohesive unit. Patrick Peterson is arguably the best overall cornerback in the game today. Desean Jackson is 15 yards away from a 1000-yard season, and he shouldn’t have a problem getting those 15 -- but how much more he gets will be interesting to find out. The Cardinals' defensive front gets consistent pressure on the quarterback, and may force Nick Foles to make quicker decisions than he wants to. Arizona is also second in the league against the run.
Offensively, Carson Palmer has played extremely well over their last four games, with with touchdown passes and only two interceptions. The Eagles' defensive front has to get pressure on Palmer, and cornerbacks Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are going to have their hands full with future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Should be a good matchup between two teams jockeying for playoff positioning. After shuffling my deck of cards I'm leaning Arizona's way.
Cardinals 24, Eagles 20
Nick Foles has been excellent since taking over the starting job, and the Eagles' offense is hot again. In their last three games -- all of which the Birds won -- the Eagles have averaged 33.3 points per game. Thing is, the Eagles haven't played a defense anywhere near as good as the won they'll face Sunday.
Arizona's defense is ranked eighth overall and second against the run. It's a big reason why the Cardinals are on a four-game winning streak.
Make it five.
Cardinals 28, Eagles 21
The Eagles are on a nice roll.
They've won three straight, beating the Raiders, Packers and Redskins.
They're ranked 31st in total defense, but we all know that stat is deceiving because their defense has improved dramatically over the past two months.
So too has their offense, as Nick Foles is proving he might be the Birds' QB of the future.
The Cardinals are on a bigger roll.
They've won four straight, beating the Falcons, Texans, Jaguars and Colts.
They're ranked eighth in total defense.
Their offense has improved dramatically over the past month, as Carson Palmer rediscovered his Pro Bowl form of the past.
Can a cross-country flight cool down the Cards? The Eagles had better hope so. These aren't the Raiders with Terrelle Pryor, the Packers with Scott Tolzein or the Redskins with ... eh, they're just a wreck.
But the Cardinals are also a team that's 2-3 on the road -- the two wins coming over the Bucs in September, when they were a mess, and the Jags. Hardly impressive.
Are the Eagles a contender or pretender? As usual, I want to see it before I believe it.
Cardinals 27, Eagles 23