A clash of 5-1 teams takes place Sunday in the desert as the Arizona Cardinals host the Philadelphia Eagles. Both squads come in with postseason aspirations and perhaps even visions of a Super Bowl appearance. Last week, the Cardinals avoided a trap game, defeating the Oakland Raiders 24-13. Meanwhile, the Eagles were on a bye week after manhandling the New York Giants 27-0 two weeks ago.
RB LeSean McCoy vs. Cardinals run defense
This matchup could very well dictate how Sunday’s contest ultimately plays out. Before breaking out against the Giants (22 carries, 149 rushing yards), McCoy had been struggling mightily. He managed only 273 yards rushing over the first five games of the year, leaving the Eagles faithful to question McCoy and Philadelphia’s offensive line . Going up against the NFL’s 2nd ranked run defense should confirm whether McCoy is truly back or if his performance against New York was a fluke.
Arizona’s aforementioned 2nd ranked run defense enters Week 8 allowing less than 73 yards per game on the ground. Coach Bruce Arians has made it a point to stop opposing run games, and isn’t shy about letting his strategy out of the bag. Look for the Cardinals to once again load up the box to stop McCoy and force QB Nick Foles to put it up in the air. Foles has been prone to turnovers this year and Todd Bowles' game plan will likely focus on getting pressure on Foles and stopping McCoy upfront.
CB Patrick Peterson vs WR Jeremy Maclin
Peterson’s recent struggles have been well documented over the Cardinals’ first seven games of the season, but his confidence hasn’t wavered one bit. Peterson will get a chance to turn the tide in his performance – likely matching up with Maclin for most of the afternoon. Maclin ranks inside the top 20 in receiving yards, yards per reception, touchdowns and receptions of 20-plus yards. Maclin is an explosive receiver, but expect Peterson to be lined up one-on-one against him.
In addition to Peterson’s struggles, Arizona’s pass defense has been suspect as a whole. Currently, the Cardinals are ranked 31st in the league against the pass allowing nearly 285 yards per game through the air. Aside from Maclin, the Eagles have other dynamic options that will need to be accounted for, particularly RB Darren Sproles if he’s able to play. Sproles is currently listed as questionable and is generally a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Betting Guide (Current Line: Arizona -2)
Cardinals are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 head-to-head meetings with Eagles.
Cardinals are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite.
Cardinals are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a S.U. win.
Cardinals are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 vs. NFC.
Eagles are 4-11-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
Eagles are 22-10 ATS in their last 32 games as a road underdog.
Eagles are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog of 0.5-3.0.
The Eagles have been tough in this spot as a road underdog, but Arizona has had their number in the past four matchups – winning three of those outright. Chip Kelly and Philadelphia will benefit from the bye week but it won’t be enough to knock off a solid Cardinals team at home. Arizona has been overcoming the odds all season long (and last season as well), and we’ve learned not to bet against them at home. Take the Cardinals to win and cover the spread.
Pick: Arizona -2
Final Score: Arizona 27 Philadelphia 20
Week 8 Preview: Cardinals vs. Eagles
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