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Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 30-Nov-2013

There are several good match ups this weekend, but none intrigues me more than the one set to take place at the Linc in Philly.

The Eagles come off a bye and are in legitimate position to contend for their first division crown in years. They have a new coach and quarterback and enough playmakers around them to generate offense consistently. 

Defensively, the Eagles have assembled a quality front seven with good athleticism and versatility. They have been taken advantage of by teams who can throw it, and Arizona is certainly that. The match ups on that side of the ball could very well dictate the fate of the Birds on Sunday, but they have some serious situational advantages here as well.

Arizona has been cruising all the while getting quality opportunities at home and taking care of overrated competition. Philadelphia is off a bye and looks like a team that could quickly turn into a nightmare of sorts for opponents, especially at home.

The Eagles were miserable for a long time in their own venue, but their recent win against Washington exercised a lot of demons. I expect both the team and fans to be fired up to play off a bye against a conference opponent who beat them in the title game just four years ago. 

This game ultimately comes down to how Philadelphia gets after the passer. Carson Palmer has been far less effective when attacked physically by the defense. Teams like Seattle and Carolina, to name just a few, forced him into multiple turnovers in game changing scenarios based off of quick and timely pressure.

Palmer has had a lot of success with his underneath weapons, especially given how well the short massing game has done with the emergence of Rob Housler and Michael Floyd. His efficiency has been ugh higher in recent weeks, and if he can get rid of the football quickly and eliminate sack opportunities against Philly, they should be able to move the ball against what is a brutal secondary.

On the flip side, Arizona's defense has to step up and control the line of scrimmage in this game. The Cardinals defense is good, but this Philly offense is also very good. Their balance and ability to attack in both the run department and through the air could put added pressure on that offense to put points on the board.

Arizona's opponents during its four game win streak have put up point totals of 13, 24, 14 and 11 in that time. The entire projection for and pace of the game changes should Philly be able to start fast, something that has to be considered given Chip Kelly's ability to prepare on extended rest throughout his career.

This is going to be a good one and I'm excited to see it. The Eagles  are good enough to get it done and the fact that Vegas is hanging out an additional .5 on the field goal makes it likely that they believe the same thing.

Arizona is good, but being 8-4 and in prime playoff position is a tad unlikely. I see limited value in betting the Eagles at 3.5 or higher, but look forward to a quality game between two NFC powers who will both be desperate considering the playoff possibilities that are on the line.