After a thrilling come-from-behind victory against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2, Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles storm into Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Cardinals had a "statement game" of their own in Week 2, knocking off Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
If each team's first two games are any indication, this should be a close affair.
Here's a look at what to watch for in Sunday's showdown.
Where: U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Betting Line: -4 Eagles, Over/Under 43.5, via Bovada
What's At Stake?
After winning their final four games last season, the Eagles have gone 2-0 to start off this season, with wins against the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
The Eagles, who currently lead the NFC East, are hoping to capture the division this season after a disappointing 8-8 campaign in 2011. The Eagles face the defending champion New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions after the Cardinals, so they are going to want to take care of business in Arizona this week.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, are attempting to rise from an 8-8 campaign as well. They have gone 2-0 to start the season behind a strong defense, shocking the New England Patriots last week, 20-18.
Cardinals starting quarterback Kevin Kolb and Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie face their old teams after they were swapped before last season.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
RB Dion Lewis - Hamstring - Questionable
WR Riley Cooper - Collarbone - Questionable
OT King Dunlap - Hamstring - Doubtful
WR Jeremy Maclin - Hamstring - Doubtful
C Jason Kelce - Knee - IR
TE Todd Heap - Knee - Questionable
QB John Skelton - Ankle - Questionable
OT Levi Brown - Tricep - OUT for season
G Jeremy Bridges - Thumb - IR
What They're Saying
Defensive end Brandon Graham was rather frank when asked what has led to the Eagles' start this season.
Graham said, via TakingIt2TheHouse.com:
I just think the leadership. They got everybody out that was the cancer as they say. But I feel like everyone is more focused, determined and we had that taste last year of not going and don’t want to go through that same feeling again this year.
In case you wondering, the only defenders to depart Philadelphia in the offseason were Asante Samuel (ahem), Juqua Parker and Victor Abiamiri.
As for the Cardinals, defensive end stud Calais Campbell was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week last week after registering 10 tackles (including two tackles for loss), two sacks and three QB hits against Tom Brady and the Patriots, per Pro Football Talk.
Cardinals second-year cornerback Patrick Peterson, who notched an interception against Brady, said after the win, via ESPN:
Coming down here to get a W can definitely propel our season to the next level. Some guys in the locker room described it as a statement game. But we'll have to wait and see what the rest of the season has for us.
Eagles Player to Watch: Michael Vick, QB
You know what the definition of an explosive quarterback is?
A quarterback who can throw six picks in two games, yet still lead his team to victories.
Against the Ravens last week, Michael Vick threw two interceptions, but he also went 23-of-32 for 371 yards and a touchdown and ran for 34 yards and the game-winning touchdown with 1:55 remaining.
Vick and the Eagles face a Cardinals team that has allowed 17 points per game so far and beaten up Brady and Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
It's going to be fun watching the Cardinals go after Vick and Vick do everything in his power to go for a victory.
Cardinals Player to Watch: Kevin Kolb, QB
Beyond Campbell, Kevin Kolb is the player to watch for the Cardinals.
After getting beaten out for the starting job by John Skelton in the preseason, Kolb was reinserted under center after Skelton suffered an ankle injury late in the season opener against the Seahawks.
Not only did Kolb go 6-of-8 for 66 yards in that game, leading the Cardinals to victory in the process, he also was the winning quarterback against the Patriots last week.
The important thing is that Kolb has yet to throw an interception. Turnovers plagued him last season.
Key Matchup: Cardinals Offensive Line vs. Eagles Pass Rush
The Cardinals have given up just two sacks so far—that's the good news for Arizona.
The bad news is that left tackle D’Anthony Batiste hasn't looked like an improvement over Levi Brown so far and the Cardinals face a dangerous Eagles pass rush in Week 3.
Batiste, who has the pleasure of facing veteran defensive end Trent Cole on Sunday (one sack, one forced fumble), was manhandled by rookie Chandler Jones against the Patriots, giving up a QB hit and four hurries (including getting called for a holding penalty).
The Cardinals not only have to keep Kolb upright, they have to give him some time to throw if they expect to defeat the Eagles.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Cardinals 17
Although I do believe Vick faces a tough defense in the Cardinals, I think the Eagles' pass rush will ultimately be too much for Kolb and the Cardinals.
This should be a relatively low-scoring game, but Vick has the game-changing ability Kolb doesn't, and that will be the difference. I expect each quarterback to have at least one turnover by the time this game is over.
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