Phenomenal Previews Presents : The 2009 NFL Conference Championships
Who’d of thought these two teams would be playing to go to the Super Bowl? The Arizona Cardinals were supposed to be one and done in the playoffs due to their record and their defense. The Philadelphia Eagles tied the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bengals went 4-11-1. Why are they in the Conference Championship?
The Cardinals are feeding off of Kurt Warner’s desire to once again win a Super Bowl. The defense has really upped it’s play the past two weeks, shutting down what is effectively three stud running backs (Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams and James Stewart.)
The Eagles and Donovan McNabb have done a complete 180 after McNabb’s benching in favor of Kevin Kolb in Week 12. Brian Westbrook’s been banged up, but has also been playing through those injuries, and playing well at that.
Both Quarterbacks have been to a Super Bowl. One has won it, the other lost. Who wants it more?
Eagles Keys To The Game
Which Donovan McNabb Will Show Up
Are we talking the pre-benching McNabb? The “An NFL game can end in a tie?” McNabb? The “I’m hurt again” McNabb? The “I threw up in the huddle, but it’s the Super Bowl I’m good to play” McNabb? Or even the “Campbell’s Chunky Soup is the best” McNabb?
The Eagles need the "cannon arm with above average mobility" McNabb who makes smart decisions to show up if they want to win this. The Cardinals have seven interceptions in the past two weeks of football, five of those came from Jake Delhomme. McNabb has to put the Eagles in the position to make the play, buy time with his feet, and hit the open man.
Use Westbrook In A Variety Of Looks
Line him up in single back, put him in the I-formation with Correll Buckhalter or Dan Klecko in front of him, split him out wide, do ANYTHING to get the ball in his hands. He’s single-handedly won games for the Eagles on numerous occasions.
11-Man Coverage On Larry Fitzgerald
OK, maybe not 11 man, but definitely 10. I’ll settle for two though. The man is a human highlight reel. Throw it within 10 feet of him, regardless of coverage, and he’s got you. Anquan Boldin says he’ll play too, but Fitzgerald’s making everyone forget about Boldin.
Cardinals Keys To The Game
Stop The Run
It wouldn’t be a Phenomenal Preview without stopping the run. And in this case “run” really means “Brian Westbrook.”
If you shut down Westbrook on the ground, and put Sheldon Brown, Lito Shepard, or Asante Samuel on him when he’s split out, then who is McNabb going to get the ball to? Terrell Owens? Oh…wait. James Thrash? Oh…wait. Jason “I think I’m cool because I took TO’s number” Avant? Sure, why not? Can he get open consistently against those three corners? Probably not.
The Eagles live and breathe via Brian Westbrook.
Establish The Run Early
Yup. Once again coming back to this oh so simple fundamental. Edgerrin James has been on a tear through the playoffs, second in postseason rushing yards with 130 this year. This all comes after being benched, and being amidst trade rumors earlier this season.
Tim Hightower’s very composed for a rookie. Plus he has a nose for the end zone. Get them the ball, get Brian Dawkins to come into the box, and then go over the top to your play makers.
The Cardinals secondary all looked like Ed Reed last week against the Carolina Panthers. Who’d of thought that the team that takes the ball away more usually wins the game? Certainly not the Tennessee Titans. “Three turnovers, no problem….wait…we lost?”
Get the ball out of McNabb’s hands and out of Westbrook’s hands. Not to mention keeping that defense, that I’m still not entirely sold on, well rested.