I got together with Bleeding Green Nation lead writer Brandon Gowton, who also gave me 25 good minutes for our podcast preview. I asked him 5 questions. Here are his answers.
What can the Cardinals expect from the Eagle offensively, and how much different is it than what we saw from an Andy Reid Eagles team?
The Eagles offense is the obvious strength of the team. Eagles coach Chip Kelly wouldn't have it any other way. Kelly isn't known for being shy in the rushing game. It's fair to expect the Eagles to attack the Cardinals defense with league-leading rusher LeSean McCoy. Even when the matchups look tough, the Eagles can find a way to execute. When the team faced the Packers a couple weeks back, Green Bay had only allowed 90.5 rushing yards per game to opposing teams. The Eagles more than doubled that number with 204 total rushing yards. It all starts up front with great run blocking from an athletic Eagles offensive line.
The mostable notable difference is The Chip Kelly Effect. The zone read, aka his "college offense", and his emphasis on a fast pace. Things like that are new to this team.
If your were to scheme for the Eagles, how would you attack them offensively and defensively?
On offense, I'd do what the Eagles have done all year. Spread the defense out and try to create mismatches (see: Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan covering LeSean McCoy on a wheel route). Foles has shown the ability to air it out, and Jerraud Powers isn't exactly scaring the Eagles offense, so it wouldn't hurt to test Arizona deep.
The Eagles defense needs to win their match-ups up front with the Cardinals offensive line. Philadelphia looked adept in achieving pressure against RG3. If not for Griffin's mobility, the Eagles easily could have had a few more sacks. It's up to the Eagles front seven to be disruptive and pressure veteran QB Carson Palmer into making bad decisions with the ball.
Who will be the impact players on offense and defense for the Eagles?
Offense: Riley Cooper
With the Cardinals expected to give a lot of attention to DeSean Jackson, I think this could be a game where Riley Cooper makes an impact. It may sound crazy, but the Foles-Cooper connection have been lethal at times this year.
Defense: Fletcher Cox
It's no secret that the Cardinanls offensive line is a weakness. The Eagles second year defensive lineman will look to take advantage of this mismatch and push the pocket all day.
How can Philly stop the Fitzgerald/Floyd combo?
Easy answer: they can't. The Eagles cornerbacks aren't going to lock these guys down, but they might be able to do enough to hold their own. Bradley Fletcher has a knack for racking up deflections, so look for him to be disruptive when the ball is nearing the receiver. On the other side, Cary Williams will give up a lot of yards and catches, but his strength is being a good tackler after the catch is made. This ideally eliminates big plays with yards after the catch. The physicality of Fletcher and Williams starts to become more important when the field gets shorter in the redzone. So while the Cardinals might be able to move down the field, it might be tougher once the team is in scoring position.
Your prediction for the game...and will these teams meet again in the postseason?
It's going to be a close, hard fought game. Both of these teams are on winning streaks and have post-season aspirations. I'll say the Eagles win, 23-20. The game is decided on a field goal in the closing seconds.
That's a great question. It's certainly possible. It's hard to see the Cardinals winning the division, but they are certainly alive for a wildcard spot. Meanwhile, the Eagles best chance of a playoff spot is winning the division but probably doing so as the 3rd or 4th seed. I won't make any friends by saying this, but I don't think the Cardinals make the playoffs. I think it's the 49ers and the Panthers as the wildcard teams. As for the Eagles, I do think they end up winning the division, but it's no guarantee. So with a reasonable chance that neither team even makes the playoffs, I'd have to say that no, I don't think they meet up again.
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