NFC Championship: Cardinals and Eagles Look To Fly South for the Super Bowl

Andrew GloverCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2009

Former divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals will battle for the NFC Championship in Arizona.

The Eagles and the Cardinals play in the same division from 1950-2001. The Cardinals moved to the NFC West in 2002 after the Houston Texans were added to the NFL.

The Eagles won the regular season matchup 48-20 on Thanksgiving night in Philadelphia. Since that game, the Cardinals have gone 4-2 winning their last three games. The Eagles won five of their last six including two playoff wins.

The Cardinals (11-7) are a win away from making their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Arizona beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Game 30-24, and beat the Carolina Panthers 33-13 in the divisional round at Carolina.

Kurt Warner has completed 40-of-64 passes for 491 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Warner led the St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowls, winning the MVP in their Super Bowl XXXIV victory.

In nine career playoff games, Warner has completed 209 passes for 2,712 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Warner is 7-2 in playoff games.

Edgerrin James has led the Cardinals in rushing during the playoffs with 130 yards on 36 carries and one touchdown. In 11 playoff games, James has rushed for 745 yards on 193 carries and six touchdowns. James first nine playoff games were with the Indianapolis Colts.

Larry Fitzgerald has led the Cardinals in receiving during the playoffs with 14 receptions for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald made his playoff debut this season.

The Cardinals' defense has forced nine turnovers and five sacks in their two playoff games. Arizona’s defense has given up an average of 18 points per game.

The Eagles (11-6-1) are looking to make their third Super Bowl Appearance. They played in Super Bowl XV losing 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders and in Super Bowl XXXIX losing 24-21 to the New England Patriots.

Under head coach Andy Reid, Philadelphia is 1-3 in the NFC Championship Game. The teams that beat the Eagles are 1-2 in the Super Bowl. The Rams lost Super Bowl XXXVI, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII, and the Panthers lost Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Donovan McNabb completed 45-of-74 passes, for 517 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions in two games. In 14 career playoff games, McNabb has completed 294 passes for 3,147 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. McNabb is 9-5 in playoff games.

Brian Westbrook has led the Eagles in rushing in the playoffs with 38 carries for 74 yards. In nine career playoff games, Westbrook has rushed for 546 yards on 117 carries and six touchdowns.

Westbrook led the Eagles in receiving against the Minnesota Vikings, with three receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. DeSean Jackson led the Eagles in receiving against the defending Super Bowl Champion, New York Giants with four receptions for 81 yards. Jackson made his playoff debut this season.

The Eagles' defense has forced five turnovers in two games and sacked the quarterback twice. Asante Samuel returned an interception for a touchdown against the Vikings in the Wild Card. The Eagles have given their opponents an average of 12 points per game.

The key for both teams will be establishing a running game. The team that does this will take pressure off their quarterback and keep the opposing defense off guard.

The Cardinals will have to take advantage of playing at home and use the crowd to their advantage and cause the Eagles to make mental mistakes. If the Cardinals do this, they have a good chance of playing in their first Super Bowl.

McNabb will need to play strong, and be able to dominate the Cardinals secondary. If McNabb can get into a rhythm and keep the ball out of the Cardinals hands, Philadelphia has a good chance at winning the game.