Week 3 NFL Picks: Why Arizona Cardinals Are This Week's Upset Special

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystSeptember 22, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles is tackled by Richard Marshall #31 of the Arizona Cardinals during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 21-17. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

If you're looking for signs that the Mayans were right about 2012 being the year of the apocalypse, then you need look no further than the Valley of the Sun.

Weren't the Mayans sun worshippers? I may actually be on to something there.

Anyway, I digress. One of the NFL's showcase games this week is one of the contests you'd least have expected to be, as the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles travel to face the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals.

That's right, the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals.

Neither team has exactly racked up style points getting to 2-0, but both teams enter this week's matchup fresh off big wins against participants in last year's AFC title game.

The Eagles earned their second one-point win of the season in an incredibly chippy game with the Baltimore Ravens last week, while the Cardinals traveled to Foxboro and shocked the National Football League by downing the New England Patriots, 20-18.

The Philadelphia Eagles were expected to be contenders in the NFC East this season, but most pundits figured after a putrid preseason that the Cardinals were headed nowhere fast, which may be why the Philadelphia Eagles have been installed as three-point road favorites by the sportsbooks in Las Vegas.

However, not only are the Eagles not going to cover that spread, but the Cardinals are going to win this game outright, and I'll tell you why.

The first, and biggest, reason is an Arizona defense led by star linebacker Daryl Washington, that is a big part of why the Cardinals have won nine of their past 11 games dating back to last year.

As Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News points out, that same defense spurred Arizona to a 21-17 win over the Eagles last year in Philadelphia, a game in which Philly quarterback Michael Vick completed fewer than half his passes and was intercepted twice. This fact that hasn't escaped Eagles head coach Andy Reid, as documented in Bowen's piece:

"[Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton] does a good job of rolling things, coverages and blitzes and so on," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Friday. "We've got to make sure we secure things up and play well."

The second reason that the Cardinals are going to win is that the Eagles to this point in the season have shown no inclination to secure anything. Philadelphia has turned the ball over nine times in two games and has the third-worst turnover differential in the NFC right now.

For a team to take care of the ball that poorly and win two games in a row is nearly unthinkable, and it simply cannot continue. Turnovers are the kiss of death in the National Football League, and sooner or later, they're going to cost the Eagles a game.

Add in a raucous University of Phoenix Stadium crowd and the fact that, according to Grantland's Bill Simmons, home underdogs are 8-3 this season against the spread, and this is the week that happens.

The Pick: Arizona 20, Philadephia 17