The Arizona Cardinals sit atop the NFC West at (11-2). The Cardinals have gained the most yards from scrimmage, they rank second in points scored. Carson Palmer has the second best passer rating in the league. Their three leading rushers (CJ2k, David Johnson, Andre Ellington) average 4.2, 4.3 and 6.9 yards per carry. The Cardinals have a talented attacking defense, but the offense is loaded.
Everyone knows future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. John Brown and Michael Floyd are popular fantasy WRs. The return to form for Chris Johnson has been fun to watch. The ascent of David Johnson from Day 3 pick out of Northern Iowa to breakout RB will certainly be discussed on all the pregame shows. So I will not be talking much about these players.
Instead I want to focus on the match up against Arizona’s offensive line, which will be the key factor in determining the outcome of this game. Yes, I’m going to talk about fat people. We have feelings too, jerk.
THE STARTING 5
LT: Jared Veldheer
LG: Mike Iupati
C: Lyle Sendlein
RG: Ted Larsen
RT: Bobby Massie
The Cardinals line has been a mess for a long time. To rectify this Cardinals GM Steve Keim went out and signed Veldheer from the Raiders prior to the 2014 season. This past offseason he made Iupati the second highest paid Guard in football with a 5 year, $40 million contract. Both have played well and helped solidify the OL. Sendlein is super swell in the alliterative name category. He’s been a constant presence in the Cardinals lineup since 2007 (yes he’s been around so long he played in THAT NFC title game). He’s physically unremarkable but a solid experienced vet. Larsen is a journeyman who replaced former 7th overall pick Jonathan Cooper a few weeks ago after Cooper continued to struggle with inconsistent play and injuries. He’s a similar caliber player to Andrew Gardener or Allen Barbre. He won’t kill a line but can be exploited. Massie would probably be best served as a swing tackle and not a starter. He’s the weak link.
Somewhat surprisingly the Cardinals run game is at its best when leveraging horizontal blocking concepts or with heavy fronts (60.8% of runs come out of 2 or 3 TE sets) used to create favorable angles with down blocks and pulling OL. For having arguably the best phonebooth guard in the game and a LT who can move people the Cardinals aren’t as formidable when coming straight downhill as one would think.
Wide Left: 28 attempts – 7.9 YPC
Left: 91 attempts – 4.9 YPC
Middle: 114 attempts – 3.2 YPC
Right: 92 attempts – 4.4 YPC
Wide Right: 22 attempts – 5.7 YPC
The Cardinals are T-4th for fewest sacks allowed with only 21 given up. However they give up the 6th most overall pressures allowed (sacks+hits+ hurries) something Billy Davis is certainly aware of. The Eagles may not be able to get home but they should be able to harass Palmer.
I expect Connor Barwin to have a big game. Bobbie Massie is prone to bouts of turnstileitis:
Barwin could have a night reminiscint of the Panthers 2014 game against Massie:
Sendlein is susceptible to a good bull rush (paging Bennie Logan)
Veldheer is 6’8. For Graham to be successful he’s going to have to go away from his preferred bullrush and bring back the ragdoll-rip that he used against Tyron Smith in Week 9.
This last one isn’t of particular note but it makes me laugh. Watch the Center…
WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Crossed over like Iverson playing Nosetackle.
In order to slow down the prolific Cardinals attack the Eagles must win in several phases. The linebackers need to maintain proper leverage and fill holes against the heavy TE run sets, the DBs have to try to slow down the stable of Arizona WRs. Fletcher Cox will have his hands full against Veldheer and Iupati, so the other members of the defensive front will need to step up. The matchups are there. Time to beat Bruce Arians and his atrocious choice in hats.
FLY EAGLES FLY