The Eagles and Cardinals play their home games nearly2,800 miles apart, but they are fairly familiar foes.
In Chip Kelly’s first campaign, the Eagles got the best of Carson Palmer and company 24-21 (with both teams at 7-5 at the time). Last season in Arizona, the Eagles fell 24-20 despite over 400 yards in the air from Nick Foles.
It’s time for round three.
“A lot of times playing teams threeyears in a row, you can take something from those games,” Chip Kelly said Thursday.
Did the 6-7 Eagles take away enough to help them edge out a victory against the 11-2 NFC West leaders?
Here are three keys to the game:
Nix ‘X’ plays
The Eagles were seventh worst in the NFL last season in allowing big, or ‘X’ plays in 2014(runs over10 yards and passing plays over 25 yards) with 85. This year, though 13 games, the Birds have allowed 67 such plays, slightly better than last season.
“We are better this year, statistics will say that but we need to continue to improve,” Kelly said, citing better play in the secondary as the reason why. “[The Cardinals]do such a good job of pushing the ball downfield.”
The Cardinals have a multitude of weapons who can hurt the Eagles for big chunks of yards, like Larry Fitzgerald or John Brown, something Philly will fight hard to avoid against one of the NFL’s top offenses.
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Keep Carson under wraps
Cardinals’ quarterback Palmer has thrown for 31 touchdowns, just nine interceptions, 4,003 yards and has a QB rating of 107.2. He’s pretty darn good.
The Eagles are hoping their pass rush has something to say Sunday night.
“You have to be able to get to him,” Kelly said.”It’s easy to say ‘here’s our plan we have to rush him this way,’ but he has a good offensive line to protect him.
“Carson is in the same category as Tom [Brady]and Eli [Manning], not being effected by the rush. They do such a great ofof focusing, concentrating onwhat they’re trying to do with the football.”They’re kind of impervious of what is going on in front of them.”
The Eagles can pick up a lot of ground with a win Sunday night but they can’t win the NFC East without beating the Giants and/or the Redskins in the final two weeks of the season.
Nevertheless, Eagles fans will know if the Eagles can jump into solo first as the Giants and Panthers play Sunday at 1 p.m., as do the Redskins and Bills.
If both teams lose, potentially, the Eagles could clinch in Week 16 at home against the Redskins (needing New York to lose to the Vikings that week).