Eagles vs. Cardinals: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2012

In a critical battle of the early-season unbeatens, the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Glendale for a showdown against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The Eagles are coming off their second consecutive one-point victory, with last week's being a 24-23 nail-biter against the Baltimore Ravens. Though quarterback Michael Vick threw for 371 yards, he and the rest of the offense still had glaring problems with turnovers in Week 2.

Looking to continue that turnover trend will be an Arizona defense which held Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to one touchdown in its 20-18 victory last Sunday. With the San Francisco 49ers also unbeaten, the Cardinals will likely need a win to keep pace in the NFC West.

With both teams having something to prove and needing a victory, here is a look at everything you need to know about Sunday's game. 


When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 4:05 p.m. ET

Where: U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ

Watch: Fox

Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket


Spread: Eagles -3.5 (Bovada)

Despite two impressive early-season performances from the Cardinals defense, the oddsmakers are seemingly not buying them as playoff contenders.

Although most of the skepticism is due to the team's anemic offense (outside of Larry Fitzgerald, of course), the Eagles' turnover problems play right into Arizona's hands.

Thus far, Philadelphia has turned the ball over nine times, which was two more than any other team in the NFL coming into Week 3. If the Cardinals are able to force a couple of turnovers and keep the scoring low, they could pull off an upset victory.

There is a reason why the line has moved from -4 on Monday down to its current state. If you're making a wager on this one (and I wouldn't advise doing so), take Arizona.


Over/Under: 42 (Bovada)

Like the spread, the over/under has been moving down all week—and for good reason.

While the Eagles will give a completely different look for Arizona than the Patriots did last Sunday, you cannot praise the Cardinals defense enough for perfectly executing a bend-but-not-break strategy against New England.

The Patriots went a paltry 5-of-15 on third-down conversions, which led to four Stephen Gostkowski field goals that should have been touchdowns.

Philadelphia provides more downfield explosion than New England, but this seems like a pretty easy under choice.


Eagles Injury Report (via CBS Sports)

S Colt Anderson, Knee, Probable

WR Jason Avant, Wrist, Probable

WR Riley Cooper, Collarbone, Out

WR DeSean Jackson, Hamstring, Probable

WR Jeremy Maclin, Hip, Out

CB Curtis Marsh, Hamstring, Probable


Cardinals Injury Report (via CBS Sports)

G Daryn Colledge, Shoulder, Probable

CB Jamell Fleming, Shoulder, Doubtful

TE Todd Heap, Knee, Questionable

S Rashad Johnson, Hamstring, Questionable

TE Jeff King, Knee, Probable

S Kerry Rhodes, Foot, Probable

S James Sanders, Calf, Questionable

LB O'Brien Schofield, Knee, Probable

QB John Skelton, Ankle, Questionable

G Adam Snyder, Elbow, Questionable

RB Beanie Wells, Knee, Probable

RB Ryan Williams, Knee, Probable

S Adrian Wilson, Ankle, Questionable


Big Fantasy Plays

Eagles: WR DeSean Jackson

Though the Cardinals put up a strong defensive effort last week against the Patriots, they did allow Tom Brady to throw for 317 yards.

For the Eagles to win on Sunday, they will need a strong mix between LeSean McCoy and the ground game and Vick through the air. With Maclin being ruled out with a re-aggravated hip injury, the pass-catching onus will fall heavily on Jackson.

The 25-year-old burner excelled last week after Maclin went down, catching seven passes for 114 yards against a seemingly overmatched Baltimore secondary. 

With no other pass-catcher other than Brent Celek fighting him for big targets, look for Jackson to have another huge performance on Sunday.


Cardinals: WR Larry Fitzgerald

Chalk this prediction under "it has to happen sometime, doesn't it?"

After catching just one pass for four yards against New England, Fitzgerald has just five grabs for 67 yards on the season—both career lows through two games.

In fact, Fitzgerald had eight games where he had more than 67 yards in 2011 alone. The ninth-year man is too talented for this trend to continue for a third game.

We all knew how dire his quarterback situation was coming into the season. Nevertheless, both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha have looked vulnerable at times, and that should leave Fitzgerald open for at least one big play.

Let's just hope that Kevin Kolb can actually hit him with the pass.


Key to Eagles Win: Avoid Turnovers

On paper, Philadelphia has enough talent to be the "dynasty" that every prognosticator had them becoming before last season.

Unfortunately, either costly coaching gaffes or turnovers seemingly get in the team's way any time it seems on the precipice of making that leap.

The Eagles should be 0-2 right now. The fact that they have made four turnovers in each of their two games and won is nothing short of a statistical anomaly. For Philly to continue its winning ways, the team will need a more conservative thinking—especially from Vick.

This is a very winnable game for the Eagles. They have more talent at just about every position on the field and have a quarterback with big-game experience. 

However, the conservative Cardinals offense is the type of unit that thrives on creating points off of turnovers. If the Eagles are able to keep possession, they will win quite handily. If not, they have they have an iceberg's chance in Phoenix of winning this ballgame. 


Key to Cardinals Win: CB Patrick Peterson

Whether it's getting the aforementioned big turnover or a huge return from the special teams, Arizona will need at least one non-offensive momentum-shifter to come out on top. 

Kolb is not the type of quarterback that can keep up with Vick, and the Eagles defense will be in his face all day with pressure. And, quite frankly, two games are enough to know that the Cardinals cannot count on either of their running backs.

That means head coach Ken Whisenhunt will have to look elsewhere, most likely to cornerback/return specialist Patrick Peterson. After taking the crown as the most breathtaking returner in the league last season, the second-year star is yet to break any big gains thus far.

For his team to win on Sunday, Peterson will need to break that trend and find the end zone.



In my upset special of the week, look for Peterson to grab that touchdown and the Cardinals to come away with a shocking victory on Sunday.

The Eagles have looked the worst of any 2-0 team in the league, and the offense is yet to prove it can play without turnovers.

Look for a close game that comes down to the last minute, but with the home team coming away triumphant

Final Score Prediction: Cardinals 20, Eagles 17



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