Cardinal Kryptonite

Why do the Cardinals always make the Eagles look sloppy, sluggish, and plain just not good enough?

The Arizona Cardinals, the bane of the Philadelphia Eagles.

You wouldn’t think so, but it’s definitely true.

Entering today’s contest, the head-to-head with these two teams is dead even, 55-55-5 during the regular season.

The first game took place at the then barely legal 21 year old Wrigley Field, in 1935. The Eagles led 3-0 entering the 4th quarter against the Chicago Cardinals. That was until a blocked punt was taken back for a touchdown by Bob Neuman, the only touchdown of his career. “Iron Mike” Mikulak added a 6 yard touchdown run to cover the spread and give the Cards a 12-3 victory.

But enough for taking a tour down memory lane, let’s get to more recent times.

The Eagles are putrid against the Cardinals. They have lost 3 out of their last 4 games, including that debacle of a NFC Championship Game (I still cringe at the Kevin Curtis drop on 4th down).

Yes, these last four games date back to 2009, and yes, last year the Birds did beat the Red Birds with Foles under the helm, but it was most certainly not an easy victory.

Let’s compare and contrast.

Arizona has changed coaches over the years, but the thing that has stuck has been time of possession.

Now before you say, “Chip Kelly’s offense is all about run and gun, time of possession is irrelevant,” hear me out.

The Cardinals will sit on this ball all day long. Running back Andre Ellington is coming off a 24 carry affair against Oakland last week. Those 24 carries were the most in a game this season for the Clemson alum.

In an interview earlier this week, Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians addressed how Ellington is “hampering” with his injury, but still how imperative he is to the team’s success.

“We’re different with our offensive line and Andre. He’s the focal part of our offense, we want to run the football”

Averaged over the last three seasons and including this year, the Cardinals are fifth in time of possession.

With Ellington getting closer and closer to 100%, I can predict that the back gets at least a repeat performance of 24 carries against the Eagles.

Likewise another big name that the Eagles have to watch out for is that Larry Fitzgerald guy.

I don’t know what this dude does, but I’m thinking he has an underground cavern/lair in the Grand Canyon where he creates voodoo dolls of the Eagles secondary.

Here are the absolutely disgusting stat lines of his previous four games against the Eagles:

2009: 9 receptions, 152 yards, 3 touchdowns

2011: 7 receptions, 146 yards, 2 touchdowns

2012: 9 receptions, 114 yards, 1 touchdown

2013: 5 receptions, 72 yards, 1 touchdown

Games against the Eagles are why this guy is considered for the Hall of Fame.

Now that I have put horrible images of Larry Fitz waltzing over Quintin Mikell in your mind, I am going to make a bold prediction.

Fitzgerald will not score this game.

Or at least he won’t have a dominant performance like we are accustomed to. Bruce Arians has stated his team’s lack of turnovers this year is due to the fact that Carson Palmer is not forcing it to Fitzgerald like he did last year.

“The emergence of Michael Floyd last year and John Brown this year, Teddy Ginn, the tight ends, Andre Ellington,” states Arians, is the reason why the Cardinals are sitting pretty at 5-1.

Hmm. A veteran receiver, an up-and-coming young receiver, a big play running back, numerous mouths to feed in an offensive lineup that seems to have no end of success? Sounds a lot like the Eagles, doesn’t it?

Last season, the Eagles jumped out to a 24-7 lead against Arizona, only to see the lead squandered down to 24-21.

Donnie Longball pinned Arizona at their own 10 yard line, with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

The defense came up clutch and stopped Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense from getting even one first down, sealing the victory for the Eagles.

Hmm. A 1 o’clock game where the Eagles took control of a NFC West team early, and decided to let the other team back in the game, only to have the defense bail them out last minute?

Sounds familiar.

This is the second straight season the Cardinals will play the Eagles after Philly’s bye week. One would assume the Eagles would have an advantage but according to Arians, that is not the case.

“The Eagles had the advantage because they’re coming off their bye, but once you have to travel [across the country] it equals out.”

I will end this piece with this. The only man on the face of the earth that predicted the Cardinals to win this division ahead of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks and reigning three time NFC Championship game competitor San Francisco 49ers is Donovan McNabb.

How is Arizona doing this? Arians made it clear.

“The belief in your locker room has more to do than the plays you’re calling than anything. If your players truly believe in each other and care for each other, then you can put them in any system and win.”

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