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Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles: Preview and Pick
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles: Preview and Pick
The Arizona Cardinals are starting to get some attention for their play on the field after they completely dismantled the Indianapolis Colts last week. The Cardinals have been over shadowed by the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers this season but with a recent winning streak in progress, the Cardinals are very alive for the NFL post season and should be taken seriously by the rest of the league.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles Odds
The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Eagles listed as (-3) point favorites in this contest. The public has spoken and early in the wagering process the money is coming in on the Cardinals as over 75 percent of the money is on the road team. Despite this move, the point spread has changed and it can now be found at (-3.5) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.
The Cardinal are starting to click on offense.
Carson Palmer was 10-of-13 for 151 yards and two touchdowns against at least five rushers. Both of Palmer's touchdown passes were end-zone throws to Larry Fitzgerald against added pressure. Fitzgerald has now caught six end-zone targets this season, trailing only Brandon Marshall (seven) for most in the league this season. Fitzgerald was 0-for-9 on end-zone targets last season. If he can continue that progress the Cardinals will be a playoff team.
However this week they are playing against an Eagles team that will be fresh and well rested after a bye week. The Cardinals will have to get used to the travel to the East Coast to stay on the winning track.
The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some very interesting betting angles. Arizona is 4-9 straight up in its last 13 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia and the total has gone over in 4 of Arizona's last 6 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia. From a betting stand point Arizona is 2-4-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Philadelphia. Arizona is 2-10 straight up in its last 12 games on the road and the total has gone over in 5 of Arizona's last 7 games on the road.
Philadelphia is 1-10 straight up and 1-10 ATS in its last 11 games at home. The total has gone over in 5 of Arizona's last 6 games and Philadelphia is 5-2 straight up in its last 7 games overall.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of is big game, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
Arizona’s defense has been strong all season. Now the offense has joined the party.
The result is a four-game winning streak that has the Cardinals in the thick of the NFC wild-card race.
After its surprisingly one-sided 40-11 thrashing of Indianapolis on Sunday, Arizona (7-4) at least temporarily held the second wild-card spot behind Carolina (8-3). San Francisco (6-4) played at Washington on Monday night. Arizona has lost to San Francisco but is the last team to beat Carolina. The Cardinals and 49ers meet in Arizona in their final game of the regular season.
Arizona coach Bruce Arians doesn’t say “if” the Cardinals will make the playoffs. He says “when” they do. That’s how confident he is in an ever-improving team that still has a tough road ahead.
“I think there’s no reason we don’t (make the playoffs),” Arians said on Monday. “We have a big game this week again against a team that’s a game behind us on the road, was in first place and fighting for the division title, so it will be another good barometer.”
The Cardinals play at Philadelphia (6-5) next Sunday. After that, they are at home against St. Louis, at Tennessee, at Seattle, then home against San Francisco.
It’s a difficult route to the postseason but, as always, Arians is confident.
“I don’t know if we’ve peaked yet,” he said. “I know we’re getting better each week. I think our best football is still out there. ... December football is what it’s all about. You want games to matter in December, and that’s what people remember, so we have to get there.”
Although it was Arizona’s most complete performance of the season, Arians wasn’t satisfied.
“We left too many points on the board,” referring to two drives that ended in chip-shot field goals rather than touchdowns.
But Carson Palmer had a masterful performance. Helped by an effective running game and improved protection, the 11-year veteran completed 26 of 37 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns, both to Larry Fitzgerald. For the second week in a row, he wasn’t intercepted. In fact, Arizona has not had a turnover in its last two games.
In the four-game winning streak, Palmer has eight touchdown passes and two interceptions. In the seven games before that, he threw for eight touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
Coming off a 419-yard passing game at Jacksonville, Palmer became the first quarterback in Cardinals history to complete 70 percent of his passes, throw for at least 300 yards and have a passer rating of at least 110 in consecutive games. Peyton Manning is the only other player to accomplish that in consecutive games this year.
Clearly, after a long and difficult process, Palmer finally has a grasp of Arians’ offense.
“It took a little longer than you’d like,” Palmer said. “But, when you look at it, when you come and install a brand new offense with brand new coaches, with new players in the offseason ... it’s a work in progress. Obviously, you’d like to have it by midway through training camp, or really be comfortable midway through training camp.
“That’s not realistic. It took longer than we wanted but we’re really getting that trust and confidence in each other.”
Palmer’s success has coincided with the big-play emergence of Michael Floyd, last season’s first-round draft choice out of Notre Dame. Floyd surpassed 100 yards receiving for the second game in a row. Palmer threw to him seven times, and he caught all seven for 104 yards. Every catch went for a first down.
“He’s the big-time player that I hoped he’d become,” Arians said. “He’s a big target — a big, strong guy. He’s playing extremely confident right now.”
Fitzgerald had five catches for 52 yards, becoming the youngest player — at 30 years, 85 days — to reach 11,000 yards in career receiving.
Sunday’s game was by far the best of the season for Rashard Mendenhall, who had become the target for fans and radio talk show hosts. The former Pittsburgh back had been plagued by a turf toe injury and finally is feeling healthy. He rushed for 54 yards on 13 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown run. He also caught a 24-yard pass. Rookie Andre Ellington ran for 50 yards on 10 carries.
But for all their success on offense, everything begins with the defense for Arizona.
Indianapolis finished with just 239 total yards. The Colts had only 96 through three quarters as the Cardinals took a 34-3 lead. Andrew Luck needed a couple of late completions to surpass his career low in passing yards (159), throwing for 163.
Arizona’s defense also scored. Karlos Dansby intercepted Luck’s pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The Cardinals moved up to seventh in total defense, second against the run.
“Identity-wise,” Palmer said, “we’re a defensive football team.”
The Philadelphia Eagles are back in action this week after taking a bye week to celebrate their first home win in quite some time. This week the Eagles hope to keep the good times rolling at home when the Arizona Cardinals, winners of four straight games after Sunday’s big victory over the Indianapolis Colts, come to town.
- Season Record
The Arizona Cardinals have won four straight games as they head to Philadelphia. Those four wins have come against teams expected to do well this season but are struggling (Atlanta, Houston), one of the worst teams in the NFL (Jacksonville) and a team that has been up and down all season (Indianapolis). So what exactly are we to make of the Cardinals, who are in the playoff hunt despite an 0-3 record in NFC West play? Right now, they are a confident and dangerous bunch at 7-4.
- Cardinals on Offense
The Arizona Cardinals are starting to find a rhythm on offense with a veteran quarterback providing a renewed spark. Carson Palmer is hit or miss with his touchdowns and interceptions, but he is capable of taking advantage of a lagging defense. With guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd to throw too, the Cardinals have a decent pass offense, ranked 14th in the NFL. The running game is a bit shallow right now. Andre Ellington is Arizona’s running back and he is capable of picking up yards on the ground and hauling in passes and busting a big play.
- Cardinals on Defense
The Eagles will be facing one of the top defenses in the NFL. Arizona is ranked seventh in total defense and second against the run. In three of the past four weeks the Cardinals have held their opponent to fewer than 17 points. Arizona’s defense has recorded 15 sacks this season, so Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will be tested to continue with his accuracy and smart passes.
- Key Players
Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver:
It should go without saying but the Cardinals have one of the league’s best wide receivers on their roster in Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald leads the team with eight touchdowns and is a go-to receiver inside the red zone. Having a second threat in Michael Floyd helps open the field up for Fitzgerald, who is dangerous every time he gets his rock solid hands on the football.
Patrick Petersen, Cornerback:
Former LSU Tiger Patrick Petersen can hurt a team any number of ways. On defense, Petersen leads the Cardinals this season with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He also has deflected 13 passes in his direction. Throwing in his direction will be a tough test for Foles, who has avoided bad decisions so far this season.
To say that Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is skeptical about the read-option offense—the system preferred by Eagles coach Chip Kelly—would be a sliiiiiight understatement.
On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Arians called the read-option “a great college offense” and suggested that those NFL coaches who used it needlessly put their teams' quarterbacks, no matter how athletic and fleet they might be, at risk for injury.
Arians, 60, was asked about quarterbacks, such as the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick, who either had been injured while running the read-option or had not been as productive in the offense this season compared to last season.
“I still think it’s a great offense. It’s a great college offense when you put a great athlete back there,” Arians said. “But when you’re facing great athletes, with the speed that’s in the NFL who are chasing these guys, unless you’re superhuman, you’re going to get hurt sooner or later—not hurt, but beat up and bruised up, and you don’t want your quarterback feeling bruised up when he’s trying to throw and be accurate.”
With all the talk of the ridiculous numbers Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles is putting up, I feel many are overlooking the recent play of the defense. While many of the numbers may say otherwise, the Eagles’ defense has improved vastly over the past weeks. I believe week five against the New York Giants was the week the Eagles’ defense started getting their act together. Before that the Eagles allowed a gruesome 31.5 points per game. Ever since then, it has dropped to just about 17 points per game. Pretty significant difference, huh? Now, why? Well, I’m no defensive guru by any means but just using the eye test, here are some of the things I saw and have me excited about the future.
First, we’ll start with the defensive line. When looking at the stats the first thing that pops out is who the team sack-leader is. Now I’m willing to bet that most people, including Eagles’ fans, don’t know who it is. Currently leading the team is Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive end Vinny Curry. Shocker right? Coming off the BENCH, Curry not only leads the team in sacks but shows just how impressive the depth and talent Philly has at defensive end truly is. Another D-Line standout is second year player Fletcher Cox. What I noticed most about Fletcher is his hustle. After every play, no matter where it finishes, Cox is in the mix one way or another. And, honestly that goes for everyone on the defensive side of the ball. Now, in the middle of the line is rookie Bennie Logan, who is an absolute beast. The coaching staff liked Bennie so much, they gave him the starting role over veteran Isaac Sopoaga and then proceeded to trade Sopoaga. Not only does this also show their depth and talent, but the young talent being developed.
Second up is the linebacking crew. First and foremost, I’d like to ask you, the reader, to just stop reading and clap it out. Why and for who? DeMeco Ryans and the Pro Bowl season he is having. The last time Eagles fans saw this much production out of the linebacker position very well may have been former Eagle Jeremiah Trotter who retired in 2009. Demeco Ryans has been described by defensive coordinator Bill Davis as the quarterback of the defense. Ryans in a true leader and mentor to the rest of the young guys on the defense, something we needed desperately. I’d even go out on a limb and say the first true leader the Eagles have had on defense since the legend himself, Brian Dawkins.
Finally, the once laughable defensive back squad is turning into a force to be reckoned with. Going into the season, the biggest question mark was without a doubt the defense, specifically the defensive backs. I’d say the player I’m most ecstatic about is second year player Brandon Boykin, who essentially put the nail in the coffin last game versus the Washington Redskins with an outstanding interception. I’ve always been very fond of Boykin, but last year and earlier this year his inexperience showed, and showed often. Now, he is an absolute stud at the nickel corner position and even on the outside when injuries to other players permits. Speaking of injuries… Bradley Fletcher. Fletcher is a lights out lockdown corner when healthy. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to stay healthy and that concerns me regarding his future with the Eagles.
The safety positions have been in quite the state of flux this year. The Eagles basically have three main guys that play, mainly based on the health status of safety Patrick Chung. Nate Allen has seemed to completely turn around his play over the past games (This is where you start knocking on wood), and Earl Wolff is coming along nicely as Chung’s backup. You can really tell he is being taught right under the defensive staff. I can tell he has an exciting future with the Eagles ahead.
I only have one semi-negative thing to say about the Eagles defense. The die-hard fans can attest to this one. There are still those plays in which you really would like to see a stop but one way or another the Eagles find a way to mess up. Whether someone is wide open or there are missed tackles, something goes wrong. For example, the 3rd and 25 that the Redskins converted. All I can say is this Eagles team as a whole is hot, and at the perfect time. Watch out NFL, they’re coming.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has been named Philadelphia’s starter for the rest of the season.
Coach Chip Kelly made the announcement Tuesday as the team returned from its bye week and began preparations for the Arizona Cardinals (7-4) on Sunday.
The Eagles (6-5) are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys.
“Nick will be our starter,” Kelly said. “And hopefully we get Mike (Vick) back through a full week of practice and he’ll be able to be the No. 2 guy.”
Foles, in his second season, replaced Vick, who re-injured his hamstring in a loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 27. The Eagles have saved their season after a rocky start, and he’s been the focal point.
Foles has played in parts of seven games this season. In five starts, he’s 4-1, and overall, he has thrown for 1,554 yards with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. What’s more, he’s thrown 199 passes, dating back to last season, without an interception.
“I feel the same,” Foles said. “Nothing has really changed. I’m going to prepare the same way I always have.”
His quarterback rating of 128.0 is on pace to break the regular-season record of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (122.5), set in 2011. Twice this season, Foles has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
On the flip side is Vick, who is still battling his way back and was informed of the decision by Kelly on Tuesday morning.
“Chip is a straight-up guy,” Foles said. “He came in and told me I’m No. 1 and told Mike he’s No. 2. It’s not like in the movies where everyone sits down and there’s tears.”
Last week during the team’s bye, Vick said in a radio interview that as well as Foles was playing, he couldn’t be taken out of the lineup.
“Coach and I have always been on the same page right from the go,” Vick said. “I’ve been playing in this league a long time. It’s great to see a guy who I know can play have great success.
“It’s not disappointing at all. I’m still a part of this organization, who took great care of me. One that has given me all the opportunities and possibilities I could ever imagine. As a competitor, you want to be out there, you want to play. But at the same time, you can only control what you can control. Nick has done a great job.”
Vick and Foles competed all through training camp last summer, and the veteran won the job based off a better preseason.
“I always believe you need to have one quarterback,” Kelly said. “I don’t think our guys are going into games worrying about if they make a mistake. I want our players to always play from a desire to excel, not a fear of failure.
“The only thing I’ve told Nick before we go into the games is go let it rip, don’t worry about things.”
Fresh off the bye week, the Eagles offense will look to keep its momentum rolling in a crucial matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Nick Foles, who following his incredible November now holds the NFL record for highest quarterback rating ever in a month at 152.8, will start his fourth straight game as the Eagles look for their fourth straight win and second in a row at home. Foles will have to be at his best in this game, since the Cardinals boast the best defense he has faced all season and a ferocious pass rush that battered Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in a 40-11 annihilation on Sunday. That said, this Eagles offense is the best, most explosive unit the Cardinals have faced since a 31-7 loss in Week 3 to the New Orleans Saints. The Eagles rank seventh in the league in offensive points per game (24.3), fourth in yards per game (412.4), first in yards per play (6.3) and first in plays of 20-plus yards (67).
The Eagles passing game has really taken off since Foles returned from his concussion and now ranks ninth in the NFL at 261.7 yards per game. His 128.0 overall quarterback rating still ranks first in the league, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio remains a sterling, perfect 16-to-0. No doubt Chip Kelly will try to get NFL-leading rusher LeSean McCoy (1,009 yards) and the Eagles' second-ranked ground game (150.6 yards per game) going, but it will be a tough task against the Cardinals' second-ranked rush defense, which is allowing a mere 81.3 yards per game. The Eagles' rushing attack has been less potent in recent weeks, and if the Cardinals defense stays true to form, Foles and his collection of receivers, led by DeSean Jackson (985 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 receptions), will have to carry the load and exploit the 17th-ranked pass defense in the league (235.8 yards allowed per game). Jackson is likely to draw Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals' All-Pro cornerback, in coverage, so Riley Cooper's matchup against Jerraud Powers on the other side becomes even more important. Tight ends Brent Celek, who has become a weapon in the screen game, and Zach Ertz could also be integral pieces in the passing attack, though it is possible Kelly will opt for more three-, perhaps even four-wide receiver sets to spread out the defense. Pace and tempo will also be major factors since the Cardinals value rotating a variety of players in on defense. If the Eagles run their patented hurry-up offense, Arizona will not be able to make its preferred, frequent substitutions.
Lost in the mess that was Arizona's 2012 season, during which a quarterback carousel and woefully inept offense doomed the team to losses in 11 of its final 12 games, was that defense actually performed very well and ranked among the league's top units. In fact, the Cardinals defense ranked sixth in the NFL based on Football Outsiders' Defense Value Over Adjusted (DVOA) system, which measures defenses based on situational performance and quality of opponent. This season, with former Eagles secondary coach and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles at the controls, the defense ranks first in DVOA. The Cardinals also rank ninth in offensive points allowed per game (19.5), eighth in yards allowed per game (317.1), fourth in takeaways (23) and 15th in sacks (29.0). The unit is physical, stingy, opportunistic and playing at a high level, with a coordinator who undoubtedly has revenge on his mind as he returns to Philadelphia.
The Cardinals defense is a mixture of foundational draft picks – Peterson, Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Tyrann Mathieu – and veteran castoffs –John Abraham, Karlos Dansby (on his second stint with the team), Yeremiah Bell – who have found new life in the desert. Bowles runs a variety of defenses, mixing and matching 3-4 and 4-3 looks with exotic blitz packages and brings extra pressure on nearly 50 percent of snaps, more than any other team in the league.
The Eagles offensive line is going to have its hands full against that Cardinals defensive front seven, and the extra week of rest could not have come at a better time for Jason Peters, who has been playing through an assortment of injuries. Campbell (40 tackles, 10 for loss, 5.5 sacks) is one of the league's premier defensive ends and has victimized the Eagles in the past, and Dockett (29 tackles, nine for loss, 4.5 sacks) is having a renaissance season at age 32. Dan Williams clogs the middle, while Dansby, who is playing like an All-Pro, leads the team in total tackles (88, nine for loss) and passes defended (14) and has chipped in with 3.0 sacks, two interceptions (one returned for touchdown) and a forced fumble. Abraham leads the team in sacks with 7.0 and three forced fumbles, all of which have come in the last five games.
In the secondary, Peterson remains the cornerstone and shutdown cornerback. He leads the team in interceptions with three (five others are tied with two). Mathieu, Peterson's close friend and former college teammate at LSU, plays free safety in the base defense and has emerged as an impact player in his rookie season. He ranks second on the team in total tackles (64, five for loss) and, in the nickel package, plays the role of slot corner and as a rover-type defensive back, much like he did at LSU. Mathieu is a chess piece that Bowles deploys all over the formation, allowing him to roam the middle of the field and lurk near the line of scrimmage with the freedom to let his natural instincts take over.
The Cardinals entered last weekend with a record of 6-4, which at the time was tied with San Francisco for second place in an ultra-competitive NFC West. With the Indianapolis Colts coming to town, the Cardinals appeared to be in for a huge test to gauge whether or not they were legitimate playoff contenders.
They passed the test with flying colors.
Arizona pummeled the Colts by a final score of 40-11, and led 27-3 at halftime. It seemed like the Cardinals had everything clicking offensively, as they outgained the Colts 410-239. Carson Palmer has been very inconsistent this season, but he's coming off his second consecutive game without an interception. He threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns and spread the ball around to 10 different receivers. The USC product may not be setting the world on fire with his numbers (16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions), but he's winning games, which is ultimately the most important thing. He isn't the same quarterback that he was 2005 when he threw for 32 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, but he's finding ways to get the ball to his playmakers.
Those playmakers are led by Larry Fitzgerald. The All-Pro wide receiver has been making it look easy for 10 seasons, and though he may be having a down year by his own standards (606 yards), he has still managed to be on the receiving end of eight touchdown passes, including two last week. But Arizona is so much more than just Fitzgerald. Second-year pro Michael Floyd has been outstanding this season, catching 49 passes for 761 yards. Like Fitzgerald, Floyd stands at 6-foot-3 and provides a difficult matchup on the outside. It appears that the Eagles will have cornerback Bradley Fletcher back in the lineup after the cornerback missed time because of a pectoral injury. Roc Carmichael has played well in relief, but the Eagles will need Fletcher and Cary Williams to provide length at the cornerback position to try to disrupt Fitzgerald and Floyd. Slot receiver Andre Roberts will see a lot of Brandon Boykin, as will Fitzgerald. Then, there is the occasional X factor of Patrick Peterson being used on offense.
The Cardinals haven't gotten all that much out of their running backs this season (88.7 yards per game as a team), but they have picked up the pace as of late. Rashard Mendenhall is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, but he ran hard in the Cardinals win over Indianapolis. His longest run of the season is only 15 yards, but he's a down-hill, physical back who can pick up the difficult yards. Mendenhall will split carries with rookie Andre Ellington, who has continually seen his carries increase, becoming the Cardinals leading rusher on the season with 441 yards. Ellington's breakout game came against Atlanta, when he carried the ball 15 times for 154 yards and a touchdown.
The Eagles defense has gone seven straight games without allowing more than 21 points, but Arizona will be sure to put that to the test. The Cardinals have scored 22 points or more in each of their last five games. The biggest challenge for the Eagles will be their ability to get pressure on Palmer without blitzing. We know that Bill Davis likes to dial up the blitz, and he certainly will on Sunday, but that would most likely leave single coverage on Arizona's playmakers, which could be dangerous. Keep an eye on the plays where the Eagles rush either three or four players. If they can win at the line of scrimmage and force Palmer to throw into tight windows, then the Eagles could be in for a successful afternoon. Fletcher Cox is coming off of a monster game against Washington. With an extra week of rest, he and Cedric Thornton should be ready to cause havoc all afternoon long.
It also appears that the Eagles defense will be almost entirely healthy for the game. On Tuesday, Kelly explained that Earl Wolff was the only player who he didn't anticipate being ready to play on Sunday. The Eagles should receive a big boost as Fletcher and Mychal Kendricks both figure to be in the starting lineup. Najee Goode and Roc Carmichael can now re-assume their duties as role players, having shown their coaches and teammates that they can step up when called upon.
Spearheaded by outstanding play from their quarterbacks, the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals are rolling into a key NFC matchup with playoff implications.
Philadelphia's Nick Foles and Arizona's Carson Palmer, however, figure to be challenged by defenses that have been playing at a high level.
The Eagles will try to stay atop the NFC East with their fourth straight victory Sunday, while the Cardinals look to keep pace in the wild-card hunt with their first five-game winning streak in 36 years.
Before heading into the bye week, Foles went 17 of 26 for 298 yards and rushed for a season-high 47 yards and a touchdown in a 24-16 victory over visiting Washington on Nov. 17.
Foles has won four of five starts since taking over for the injured Michael Vick, including three straight victories to vault the Eagles (6-5) into a first-place tie with Dallas.
As a starter, Foles has connected on 63.6 percent of his attempts for 1,308 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He hasn't tossed a pick in 199 passes overall dating to last season - the second-longest streak in team history behind Vick's 224.
Although Vick is nearing a return from his hamstring injury, Kelly made it official earlier this week that Philadelphia would ride the red-hot Foles the rest of the way.
''I feel the same,'' said Foles, who has a 128.0 rating and is on pace to break the regular-season record of 122.5 set by Aaron Rodgers in 2011. ''Nothing has really changed. I'm going to prepare the same way I always have.''
Foles now faces an Arizona team that ranks eighth in points allowed at 20.3 per game and total defense at 317.1 yards. The Cardinals (7-4) held an opponent to 14 or fewer points for the fifth time in eight games in a 40-11 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday.
"Identity-wise,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said, ''we're a defensive football team.''
With the way Palmer has been playing, however, Arizona has been equally strong on the offensive side of late.
After going 30 of 42 for 419 yards with two touchdowns in a 27-14 win at Jacksonville on Nov. 17, Palmer was 26 of 37 for 314 yards with two more scores against the Colts.
He's the first player in team history to record 300 yards passing, a completion percentage of 70.0 and a rating of 110.0 in consecutive games.
While Palmer completed passes to 10 receivers against Indianapolis, Michael Floyd had his second straight 100-yard receiving game with seven catches for 104 yards. Larry Fitzgerald caught five for 52 yards, becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 receiving yards.
Fitzgerald has been tough on the Eagles with 25 catches for 412 yards and six touchdowns in his last three meetings, including Arizona's 32-25 win in the 2009 NFC championship game.
With four straight victories, Arizona has drawn even with San Francisco for the sixth and final NFC playoff spot, though the 49ers hold the tiebreaker.
''I think there's no reason we don't (make the playoffs),'' coach Bruce Arians said. ''We have a big game this week again against a team that's a game behind us on the road, was in first place and fighting for the division title, so it will be another good barometer.''
The Cardinals seek their first five-game winning streak since a six-game run in 1977, and first 8-4 start since 2009.
They could have their hands full with a Philadelphia defense that hasn't given up more than 21 points while winning five of seven after allowing 34.5 points per game during a 1-3 start.
''The defense turned it around very well,'' said wideout DeSean Jackson, who has team highs of 58 catches and 985 yards. ''They're doing some great things. As an offense, it's great to have your defense going out there and competing, doing a good job, making the other team punt.''
LeSean McCoy, the league's leading rusher with 1,009 yards, also could play a big role as the Eagles try for their second straight win at home after snapping a team-worst 10-game skid there.
McCoy has rushed for 151 yards on 5.6 per carry along with a touchdown in two career meetings with the Cardinals, who have the NFL's second-ranked run defense at 81.3 yards a contest.
Arizona has won the last three matchups, including the 2009 NFC title game
Many people wondered how Eagles coach Chip Kelly would make the transition from the University of Oregon to the NFL.
But according to Kelly, the adjustment comes from changing jobs, not moving up a level.
“I don’t look at it as college to pros,” he said. “It could have been college to college, it could have been college to high school. It’s going to be different than where you were.
“You’re working with new people; I only brought one full-time assistant with me from Oregon, so it was a whole new staff and new players and all that, so the adjustment is that the people are new. The adjustment is always going to be different just because you’re in a different spot.”
The Eagles have won three consecutive games, and the Cardinals have won four. Both teams have head coaches with offensive backgrounds, and it’s not a coincidence that both teams have started showing improvement on offense, Kelly said.
“I kind of think they are similar to us in that they are just getting more comfortable with their personnel and with Bruce’s (Arians) system. Obviously, it’s a proven system that he’s had a ton of success with in the National Football League over time. Carson (Palmer) is new, and it’s his first time working with him. Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald) was there, Michael Floyd was there, but you start to get all these different pieces in there, learning a new system, because it’s a whole new staff, so I just think that you can tell they’re starting to feel more comfortable with each other.”