The Eagles return home for their second home game Sunday, a 1 p.m. start on Fox and the first of a series of four home games in five weaks before their Week 10 bye. With momentum and national attention in their corner, Philly is favored once again at home and could get some breathing room in the NFC East with a fourth win.
Here are three things fans should keep an eye on when things commence in Week 5:
Fourth quarter woes
The Eagles’ defense has allowed 52 points in the fourth quarter, more than they’ve allowed in the first three quarters combined. The stout defense that looks intimidating and in control during the first half of games has been lackluster at the ends of games and has nearly blown two big leads down the stretch. Assuredly, Philadelphia will be emphasizing a full 60-minute performance from the defense when the Cardinals come to town.
“We’ve been thinking on that,” Eagled defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “We were in the exact opposite position last year. Last year, we were struggling a little bit in the first half and second half we were pitching shutouts. I think there’s a lot of layers to everything that goes on on the football field. 52 points in any quarter is too many. Whether it’s the first or the fourth. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping points off the board.”
Stop the big play
The Eagles nearly lost each of their last two victories thanks to the big play. A depleted secondary that is awaiting a healthy return for Ronald Darby, and debut for Sidney Jones, has given up a league-high five pass plays of 40 or more yards. Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald could join a big list of opposing receivers who have gone off against the Birds, including Chargers’ Keenan Allen (138 yards), and Tyrell Willians (115 yards), Giants’ Sterling Shepard (133 yards) and Odell Beckham Jr. (two TD), and Chiefs’ Travis Kelce (103 yards).
“He is a tremendous receiver,” Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson said of the Cardinals future hall of fame receiver Fitzgerald. “He’s a pro’s pro, the way he prepares himself during the week to play. … Having those guys on your team obviously gives your quarterback a lot of confidence and that’s kind of the go-to guy. We’ve got our work cut out for us defensively, because they also have speed guys that can roll. It will be a big test.”
The Eagles’ first three wins have come against teams with a combined 2-10 record — losing to the now 4-0 Chiefs. In their remaining 12 games, Philly faces just three teams currently with winning records. Sure, it’s early, but the Eagles will find themselves favorites in the majority of the rest of their games. They need to take care of business when they’re supposed to win. If they do, the’ll make the playoffs.
According to Vegas, the Eagles’ NFC East odds are not -130, heavy favorites over the Cowboys (+215) and Redskins (+450).