The Cardinals have the unenviable task of stopping the No. 1 offense in the NFL, which Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles will bring to University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.
With a win, the Cardinals would be 3-0 for the first time since 1974…
These are two teams who are used to pulling out tight games this season, so how does Arizona come out on top in what’ll most likely be another tight one?
1. Quarterback John Skelton took part in a limited practice on Thursday, the first since spraining his ankle against the Seahawks. Coach Whisenhunt is being cautious in saying whether or not Skelton will be ready for Philadelphia.
So if it’s not Skelton, it’s Kevin Kolb to start. Kolb looked good to me against New England last week.
No his numbers weren’t gaudy or anything like that, but he moved the offense when it needed to be moved, got them two touchdowns in the second half, including his game winning run in the fourth.
Aerial yardage will be hard to come by against the fourth ranked pass defense that the Eagles bring in.
Kolb will have to play it smart, like he’s done so far and pick and choose his spots to throw, and when he does, make sure it’s on a rope and it’s accurate.
2. The offensive line will have to deal with a dangerous front seven that includes Jason Babin, who had 18 sacks last season, Trent Cole who had 11 and former Texan DeMeco Ryans who leads the team in tackles this season.
This will be as tough a defense as they’ll have to deal with all season long, but they’ve played very well through two games, only giving up two sacks. That trend of tough up-front play will have to continue if they expect the offense to move.
3. The running game showed more promise last week, gaining 105 yards overall, which is exactly what the Eagles are giving up on the ground per game.
The Cardinals made a definite effort to get the ground game going, as seen by their 33 rushes. They need to keep pounding the ball every chance they get, and eventually something will break open.
Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams were both listed on the injury report (Wells practiced in full on Thursday, Williams limited with his knee), but I expect both of them to get some significant time on Sunday, because the team needs both of them suited up.
4. Michael Vick was bottled up last year at the Linc, as the Cardinals got the four-point victory. The defense will have to be just as tenacious on him on Sunday, as they were last November.
The Cardinals linebackers are very fast and physical. Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield are gonna have to cut Vick’s outside running lanes completely. Keep him in the pocket, keep a spy on him as much as possible and make him beat you with his arm, not his legs and his arm.
The defensive line will have to keep constant pressure on Vick and an Eagles line that are already down their starting center, and possibly King Dunlap at the left tackle spot.
The Eagles have so many killers on offense (Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin). The secondary will also have to be up to the task of shutting them down as well.
5. The Cardinals were minus-1 on the turnover ratio last weekend in New England, something they can’t afford to have happen again on Sunday, because the Eagles will carve them up if they don’t keep it clean.
The Eagles have forced six turnovers in two games, so this team is always looking for a chance to bury you if you’re not careful.
The Cardinals have to play smart with the ball, and never be afraid to challenge Philadelphia.
This is one of the top teams in the league. The Cardinals beat another elite team last week in the Patriots. They can make another statement with a win on Sunday.