We are witnessing the first 2-0 start since 2004, two outstanding defensive displays, and the ablility to win games late. Except for turnovers and penalties, our Philadelphia Eagles gave us reasons for optimism against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. We saw big time use of the tight end Brent Celek, a balanced run and passing attack, sharp passing by Michael Vick, and solid protection from the offensive line. This was a legit win against a superbowl contender that a lot doubted their chances against. And at least temporarily, Michael Vick showed us that he can be counted on late in games. Despite the blunders he has had a part in, the Eagles have the best offense in the NFL, averaging 471 yards in the first two games.
The Arizona Cardinals will not be an easy task. Like the Eagles they are 2-0, the line opening up at 4 points in the Eagles favor. The Eagles are traveling to Arizona with a lost day of practice, so there is upset potential here. The Cardinals are ranked 13 in total defense, a misleading stat. This unit is very talented with experienced veterans such as defensive end Darnell Dockett, on a defensive line that already has 7 sacks on the season. The Eagles offensive line will be put to the test, especially with injuries to center Jason Kelce and left tackle King Dunlap. The Cardinals QB, Kevin Kolb, is one we are very familiar with. A lot, like myself still have doubts about Kolb's true potential, but he is treated with very good weapons at wide reciver, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Eagles passing defense has allowed only 162 yards a game, and has given up only ONE passing touchdown. They lead the league with 5 interceptions. Key matchups, Eagles defense against QB Kevin Kolb, and the Eagles offensive line against the Cardinals defensive line. Offensively, the Cardinals have had a slower start to the season, averaging 249 yards a game. They are poor in the passing AND rushing categories. Like the Eagles, they have squeaked out close and gritty wins against their oponents.
Philadelphia can defeat Arizona by protecting and running the ball, and winning the battle up front. Arizona's defensive line is their strongest unit, and if they cannot get to Vick, their secondary will be picked apart, and the Eagles will win by double digits. Even with weapons, Arizona's offense has not shown much spark. In both of their wins, their opponents led in passing and rushing. Arizona can defeat Philadelphia if the Eagles continue to penalize themselves heavily, turn the ball over at an alarming rate, and allow Michael Vick to take hits. Their defense like the Eagles has shown a capability to hold late in games.
My take? This is the week where Philadephia's #1 offense finally shows what they are supposed to be. The defense will get to Kevin Kolb, and he will get flushed in the pocket, leading to mistakes. The Eagles will start off slow, keep Arizona in the game with limited mistakes, but will ultimately pull away as their offense will be too much for Arizona to overcome. Also, how could the Eagles forget the blown lead and loss to the Cardinals last season? I'm sure they haven't. This will NOT be the Eagles team we saw last season. Call it early optimism if you want, but I believe that.
Eagles 31, Cardinals 17