Arizona Cardinals (-3.5, 51 o/u) at Philadelphia Eagles
Both the Arizona Cardinals (11-2, 6-1 Away) and the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7, 3-4 Home) are coming off 23-20 wins at home last weekend. They both have head coaches in their third season. They’re both named after birds. That’s pretty much where the similarities between these two teams end and the disparity between the Cards and Eagles should be on fully display this weekend when they clash on Sunday Night Football (8:30 PM Eastern).
The well-rounded Cardinals sport a top-five offense and defense. They have the second-best scoring margin in the NFL and have emerged as the one true threat to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC. Winners of seven straight now, Arizona has been getting it done every way imaginable. Last week against the Vikings, it was 35-year-old Dwight Freeney playing hero, forcing a fumble on the final drive to preserve the field-goal victory.
The Eagles will be looking for their third straight win this week, something they haven’t accomplished since the opening three weeks of last year. But both their previous wins were shockers, especially a 35-28 win over the Patriots. In both that game and their ensuing win over the Bills, the Eagles were significantly outgained, allowing over 400 yards of offense. In fact, Philly has allowed their past four opponents to break that barrier.
With Carson Palmer at the helm, Arizona’s offense is poised to make fantasy football magic in this game. But the Eagles stand a chance if they can manage to win the turnover battle. Philly has had a positive turnover differential in six games this year: five of them were wins. It won’t be easy, though, the Eagles offense has 23 giveaways on the season and has only made it through one game this year without a turnover.
The matchup of the men wearing the headsets could be the most fun part of the night. There is no coach more polarizing in the NFL than Chip Kelly, now in his third year with Philly. Despite gutting the roster and reshaping the team to his liking, the Eagles have yet to step up in big games. On the other sideline is a two-time Coach of the Year winner in Bruce Arians: a man the Eagles had a chance to sign. Arians has shown his team is ready to play each week, while you never quite know what to expect from the the gimmicky Kelly.
Despite the huge gaps in record, it’s arguable that Arizona needs this game more. A win for the Cards clinches the NFC West: a loss leaves an opening for Seattle, as the Cards close the year against the Packers (9-4) before a Week 17 showdown with those trailing Seahawks. Philly finishes the year with Washington and New York, so regardless of what happens in this game they’ll control their own fate down the stretch.
Arizona is 4-2 ATS as a road favorite and are undefeated straight-up in four Primetime appearances this year, yet the Cards have only gone 1-3 ATS under the lights.
The teams met in the desert last season, and the Cardinals won 24-20 on a 75-yard touchdown from John Brown. This time around, it shouldn’t be that close. Look for Palmer and his bevy of weapons to carve up the Eagles and reaffirm their status as a truly dominant team.
Pick: Arizona -3.5.
(Photo Credit: MPR (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/].)
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