Eagles vs Cardinals NFL Week 3 Preview

By Bryn Swartz

The Philadelphia Eagles head into their week three matchup against the Arizona Cardinals looking to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

But to do so, they will need to beat one of the other five remaining undefeated teams in the National Football League: the surprising Cardinals, who used fourth quarter comebacks to prevail against both the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

This is a pivotal game for the Eagles, who still have many doubters after winning their first two games in the closing minute. The Cardinals are considered to be a lucky 2-0 team, but so are the Eagles. Tomorrow’s game will show which team deserves to be 3-0. My money is on the Eagles.

Below are three keys to the victory for the Eagles.

1) Keep Michael Vick healthy.
Michael Vick has played two games and hasn’t missed a play. In fact, he’s stayed completely healthy for the last six games he has played, a pretty impressive streak for him. But he did get injured against the Cardinals last year. It came on the first drive of the game, when linebacker Daryl Washington broke a pair of Vick’s ribs. Vick finished the game, which the Eagles lost, and then Vick missed the next three games.

2) Pressure Kevin Kolb.
Kevin Kolb is not a good quarterback. I don’t expect him to end the season as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback.  In my opinion, Kolb is the second best quarterback on the Cardinals right now. Despite that, Kolb is having a good season so far, as he has thrown for 206 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, while leading the Cardinals to a pair of fourth quarter comeback victories.

But if he has one weakness (and actually he has a lot more than one), it’s his inability to remain focused and unnerved against a powerful defensive line. In other words, if the Eagles can get to Kolb, they will win the game. It’s what happened in Kolb’s first start of 2010 with the Eagles. The Green Bay Packers harassed Kolb for a quarter and a half until linebacker Clay Matthews ended Kolb’s reign as Eagles’ starter almost before it even began.

3) Stop Larry Fitzgerald.
If you can stop Larry Fitzgerald, you can stop the offense for the Cardinals. They have one of the bottom starting quarterbacks in the league in Kolb. They don’t have a brutal running game. Their offensive line is one of the worst in the game.

In fact, they rank 30th in total offense. They’re 30th in passing yards and 28th in rushing yards. They’re also 30th in net passing yards per attempt and 29th in rushing yards per attempt.

Fitzgerald is the only remotely dangerous weapon on this offense. Nobody else comes even close to scaring me. But Fitz is as good as it gets. In four career games against the Eagles, he’s caught 26 balls for 458 yards and eight touchdowns, an average of 6.5 catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. He caught a huge 37-yard reception in the final minutes of the Cardinals’ 21-17 victory over the Eagles last season, and he scored three touchdowns in the 2008 NFC championship game win over the Eagles.

The Eagles have two of the top cornerbacks in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and stud rookie nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin, who can help stop Fitzgerald.

I did not list cutting down on turnovers on the list of keys to the game for the Eagles. I think they obviously need to do that but I have faith that they will decrease on their own. I’m also not sure that the Eagles still couldn’t win if they turned the ball over four times. If they did it against the Baltimore Ravens, they should be able to do it against the Cardinals, who really haven’t proven that they can move the ball up and down the field.

There’s a part of me that thinks the Eagles turn in a complete game and win 34-9. But there’s a part of me that thinks the Cardinals keep it close and the Eagles use another fourth quarter comeback to win 23-20.

I’m going to go with an in-between score. Eagles collect a 24-17 victory and improve to 3-0.

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