Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals: Preview & Prediction

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles listens to special teams coach Duce Staley (L) and head coach Andy Reid during a timeout in a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field on September 16, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Ravens 24-23. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

If the Philadelphia Eagles can survive in Arizona on Sunday, they'll be one of only four (or fewer) teams with a perfect record heading into Week 4. Considering the heat the rest of the division is bringing, that might be a necessity more than a luxury. 

Some final thoughts on Eagles-Cardinals, along with my prediction...


What Philadelphia must do to win, offensive edition

Avoid making the mistakes they did against Cleveland and Baltimore, because this might be the least forgiving defense they've seen thus far. Patrick Peterson, Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett can make things happen.


What Philadelphia must do to win, defensive edition

Limit Larry Fitzgerald—who had 146-yard, two-touchdown day in Philly last season—and take advantage of Arizona's terrible offensive line in order to get the offense the ball more often.


How Philadelphia can lose

By making those classic mistakes, or by letting Fitzgerald run wild again.


Five most important non-quarterbacks

DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole, LeSean McCoy, Dallas Reynolds, Nnamdi Asomugha

It was either Reynolds or left tackle Demetress Bell, both of whom are making their first starts against a very tough defensive front. Ultimately, Reynolds will have more responsibilities with protection calls at the line.

Jackson might have to atone for a lack of Jeremy Maclin, while McCoy will be relied upon to maintain balance. Cole will look to exploit that line in order to help the secondary against Fitzgerald, while Asomugha will be charged with covering Larry himself.


Injury analysis, Eagles edition

Bell and Reynolds held up in relief of King Dunlap and Jason Kelce last week, and the Eagles are quite resilient in that area. I'm not overly concerned.

A bigger concern is that Maclin missed practice Friday with a hip pointer, and there's a chance he's held out. With Peterson playing well in Arizona's secondary, a lot could fall on Brent Celek and Jason Avant.

UPDATE: Maclin's out, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. So the pressure's on Jackson, Celek and Avant.


Injury analysis, Cardinals edition

It looks as though Kevin Kolb will start in place of the injured John Skelton, but Kolb's not much of a threat anyway. I wouldn't worry about the fact that he was in Philly a couple years ago, either. Todd Heap has also been limited in practice this week, but Arizona is pretty healthy.


B/R NFC East Blog prediction

Arizona hangs with everybody, and the Cards have won seven of eight overall. But the Eagles are still so much more talented, and I think the defense is playing better than anyone right now (save for maybe San Francisco). They'll pull off a three-point road victory.

Eagles 20, Cardinals 17