For the third time this season, the Arizona Cardinals will be featured on Sunday Night Football. The Cardinals will be back on the road for the third time in their last four games against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Both teams have plenty on the line as Arizona still has hopes for a No. 1 seed and home field throughout the playoffs. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is in a battle for the NFC East division crown with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins.
The Eagles (6-7) were written off just a few weeks ago but have managed to win two straight games and are now back in the thick on things in the NFC playoff race.
QB Sam Bradford’s performance has been much better of late as his QB Rating has risen to 82.9 on the season to go along with a 14-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Bradford will face arguably his toughest task of the season against the ball-hawking Cardinals secondary.
While it hasn’t been all too surprising that Bradford’s been up and down this year, the inefficiencies of the Eagles running game have been. RB DeMarco Murray was signed to a mega contract this offseason but has seemingly been passed on the depth chart by both Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews.
Murray still leads Philadelphia in rushing with 603 yards but his yards per carry (3.5) is significantly less than that of Sproles (4.0) and Mathews (5.3). Look for all three to log time against the Cardinals but we’d expect Matthews to do the bulk of the damage.
Offensively for Arizona, it’s been a banner year thus far for QB Carson Palmer. Palmer’s name is on the league MVP radar and for good reason as he’s compiled a QB Rating of 107.2 to go along with 4,002 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 31 to 9.
Palmer has benefited from a tremendous trio of wideouts who haven’t disappointed this season. Larry Fitzgerald (1,088 yards), John Brown (895 yards) and Michael Floyd (652 yards) have all carried the Cardinals receiving corps at times in 2015.
A more concerning area for Arizona is at the running back position but rookie David Johnson has done an admirable job picking up the starting duties. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington are out and David Johnson has been productive in relief rushing for 99 and 92 yards in the past two games.
Eagles player to watch: RB DeMarco Murray
We’ve already talked about Murray above and one would have to think that he’ll get going at some point this season. Both Sproles and Mathews appear to be much better fits in Chip Kelly’s offense and have limited Murray’s touches of late.
The Cardinals are hoping that Murray’s potential emergence will wait at least one more week as he’s failed to rush for more than 34 yards in each of the past three weeks.
The key to for Arizona in Sunday night’s game will be staying balanced offensively. In fact, that will likely remain the key for the rest of the season and into the playoffs. If the Cardinals are able to accomplish that while forcing Bradford into a mistake or two, we expect to see another Arizona win on Sunday night.
Prediction: Arizona 30 Philadelphia 21