A pair of 5-1 teams that met under similar circumstances last season will get together again when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals this afternoon on FOX. Last season, Philadelphia hosted Arizona following a Week 12 bye. This year, the Eagles travel to take on the Cardinals after a Week 7 bye.
Arizona is undefeated at home this year, with quality wins over the Chargers (18–17), 49ers (23–14) and Redskins (30–20). Meanwhile, Philly has had issues on the road, with a last-second 30–27 win at Indianapolis and 26–21 defeat at San Francisco. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, in particular, has struggled on the road, with a combined one TD and three INTs — after just two INTs in all of 2013.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Arizona -2.5
Three Things to Watch
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1. Carson Palmer for MVP?
Okay, so that's a bit extreme, but the Cardinals’ quarterback has his team in first place in a division that was thought to belong to the Seahawks and 49ers. Despite dealing with a shoulder injury that has caused him to miss three games, Palmer has led the Cards to a 3–0 record, completing 74-of-112 passes for 807 yards, six touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 101.3. In fact, in his last 12 starts for Arizona, Palmer is 10–2, and his passer rating of 97.8 over that span ranks seventh in the NFL. And he's hungry after last year's 10–6 record wasn't enough to get the Cards to the postseason. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," Palmer said. "I think we're getting ready to define hopefully my time here and our time as a team."
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2. Philly's Jekyll-and-Hyde Defense
The Eagles went into their bye with one of their most dominant defensive performances in years in a 27–0 win over the Giants, a game in which they allowed only 254 total yards. In the three preceding games, though, the Philly defense was alarmingly porous, allowing 461 yards per game — including 511 yards in a 37–34 win over the Redskins. So which Eagles defense will we see? One hopeful sign for Philly fans is the return of linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has missed the past four games with an injured calf.
3. What About the Eagles Playmakers?
Much like the defense, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy seemed to emerge from a season-long shell against the Giants, rushing for 149 yards on 22 carries. Prior to that, though, McCoy had been a colossal disappointment to all those fantasy owners who drafted him in the first few picks. Before the Giants game, McCoy had averaged only 2.9 yards per carry on the season. Likewise, quarterback Nick Foles has struggled to return to the heights he enjoyed in a breakthrough 2014 season; he's thrown seven interceptions this season after throwing only two all of last season. The Birds also may welcome back diminutive playmaker Darren Sproles (sprained MCL), who could help Philly find some consistency on offense.
The Cardinals have the top run defense in the NFL, allowing only 72 yards rushing per game, meaning that Foles will need to make some plays for the Eagles to be successful. Look for Chip Kelly to find ways to get Sproles the ball in space, allowing him to make plays and open things up downfield. But if Palmer continues to protect the ball, it might not matter. The Cards are having a charmed season, and Bruce Arians' team is playing well enough to pick up a key win at home.