Cardinals-Eagles Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 09, 2011
Prior to the start of the season, many figured the Philadelphia Eagles would be solidifying their playoff position with their Week 10 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Kevin Kolb's return to Lincoln Financial Field. Neither of those possible storylines are looking too realistic anymore. After being dealt a major blow to their playoff hopes last week, the Eagles try to bounce back Sunday against the Cardinals, who might be without Kolb for a second straight game. Considered one of the preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl, Philadelphia (3-5) likely needs to go on an epic run to simply make the playoffs. The Eagles are three games back of NFC East-leading New York and not in good position to snag a wild-card berth, having already lost to Atlanta and Chicago. "We put ourselves in this situation and in this hole," running back LeSean McCoy said after Monday night's 30-24 home loss to the Bears. "Each game is critical to us and we just need to approach them like that." The Eagles seemed to be in good shape to pick up a third straight win Monday, leading 24-17 in the third quarter, but they allowed Chicago to score the game's final 13 points. It was the fourth time Philadelphia blew a fourth-quarter lead. "You can't let opportunities like this slip away," said Michael Vick, who is tied for 30th in the NFL with one fourth-quarter touchdown pass. The Eagles are 3-5 for the sixth time since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. In each of the previous five occasions, Philadelphia missed the playoffs. "It's not early anymore, it's getting late," tight end Brent Celek said. "We're halfway through the season and we have a terrible record. In all reality, we have to go on a streak. It's that simple." The Eagles would seem to have a decent chance to get a win against the Cardinals (2-6), considering they're 3-0 against teams that are .500 or worse. Philadelphia has done an excellent job of protecting the ball in those victories, turning it over three total times compared to averaging 3.2 turnovers in five losses to clubs with winning records. Arizona is coming off last Sunday's 19-13 overtime victory over one-win St. Louis, snapping a six-game losing streak. Calais Campbell blocked a potential game-winning field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter, and Patrick Peterson returned a punt 99 yards for a TD in overtime. It was the Cardinals' first win since beating Carolina in the season opener. "It has been a tough stretch - six games, difficult, especially the way we lost them," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team has lost four games by four points or fewer. "Emotionally for your team, it gives you a lot to build off going forward." The Cardinals got the win with Kolb on the sidelines recovering from a turf toe injury in his right foot. Kolb, who spent four seasons with the Eagles and was their starting quarterback last year before a concussion opened the door for Vick, was traded to Arizona in July for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round draft pick. Whisenhunt said Kolb is steadfast on facing his former team, but the injury might keep him out for another week. "It sounds cliche, but we just have to see how it progresses," Whisenhunt said. "It's a very painful injury and something that's very difficult, especially for a quarterback, to be able to drop and push off of, or run out of the pocket and escape things." If Kolb is unable to play, John Skelton will likely make his second start. Skelton completed 20 of 35 passes for 222 yards with a touchdown against the Rams but also had a pair of safeties. The Cardinals were unable to establish much of a ground game last week, managing a season-low 70 yards. Beanie Wells was limited to 20 yards on 10 carries and will be facing a Philadelphia defense that gave up a season high-tying 164 rushing yards to Chicago. The Eagles could also get the ground game going this week behind McCoy, the NFL leader with 825 rushing yards. In four road games, the Cardinals are allowing an average of 143.3 rushing yards, tied for sixth-worst in the NFL. These teams haven't met since the NFC championship game following the 2008 season. The Cardinals blew all of an 18-point third-quarter lead before rallying for a 32-25 win. The Eagles have won five of seven regular-season meetings since 2000.
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