The Philadelphia Eagles travel to Arizona this week to take on the Cardinals in a week-15 showdown.
The Eagles knocked off the red-hot New Orleans Saints, who had won their last 9 games, last week to move to four wins on the year. The Cardinals demolished the New York Giants 26-7 in week 14 to stay within striking distance of the top spot in the NFC West.
Both teams need wins to keep their playoff hopes alive, and just one loss for either team could end any chance at a Super Bowl run.
Additionally, this is the last game outside of the division for either team, so both teams could use a solid win to gain momentum going into their last two key games.
Let’s examine both teams outside of this impactful matchup.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-8-1):
Can Jalen Hurts do it again?
In his first career NFL start, Hurts was 17/30 for 167 yards and a touchdown. Hurts’ touchdown came on a 15-yard reception by Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery’s only reception of the game.
Hurts seemed comfortable in the offense, and he completed passes to eight different receivers. In addition to completing passes to multiple targets, Hurts showed off his mobility by rushing for 106 yards on 18 carries.
Speaking of dynamic rushing performances, Miles Sanders finally had a breakout game for the Eagles’ offense.
Sanders ran the ball 14 times (just two fewer times than the last two weeks combined), and although he didn’t see a dramatic increase in touches, he made the most of the opportunities he had.
Sanders finished with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one of which was an 82-yard scamper.
Sanders will look to build upon last week’s success against the Cardinals this week.
While Sanders burst onto the scene for the Eagles’ offense, one player has gone incredibly quiet recently: Travis Fulgham.
Fulgham had 29 receptions and 435 receiving yards over his first five games this season.
Since then, Fulgham has just 32 receiving yards on four receptions.
The Eagles’ offense needs to get their leading receiver involved.
Defensively, the Eagles have a tough test against the Cardinals – a team that embraces both the pass and the run.
Kyler Murray, the QB for the Cardinals, is No. 2 in the NFL in yards per carry (YPC) this season (6.2).
Murray is an elite dual-threat QB, and he looks to carve up opposing defenses both through the air and on the ground.
The Cardinals’ offense is 4th in the NFL in yards per game (YPG) this season (389.5). The Eagles can’t let this potent unit get any momentum going.
The Eagles’ defense is 9th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (220.6) and 24th in rushing yards allowed per game (127.3).
I expect the Eagles’ defense to commit to stopping DeAndre Hopkins first, so this could open up opportunities for the Cardinals’ rushers like Murray, Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.
Arizona Cardinals (7-6):
The Cardinals love to score, and they love to do it often.
The Cardinals average 27.5 points per game compared to the Eagles’ average of 21.3
In addition to the dual-threat ability of Murray, the Cardinals find offensive success because of their elite WR Hopkins.
Hopkins is No. 5 in the NFL in receiving yards (1,155), and he has five touchdowns this season.
Hopkins’ heroic, last-second catch against the Bills saved them from another loss and kept their playoff hopes alive.
However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Cardinals recently.
The Cardinals have lost three of their last four games, with their only win coming last week against the aforementioned Giants. If Hopkins doesn’t make that historic catch against the Bills, the Cardinals would have had five straight losses prior to the Giants.
The Cardinals desperately need a win here to stay in the playoff conversation and to stay relevant in the loaded NFC West.
Defensively, the Cardinals are pretty comparable to the Eagles.
The Cardinals are 11th in passing yards allowed per game (224.9), allowing just 4.3 more yards per game than the Eagles.
Also, the Cardinals give up 119.5 rushing yards per game, which is 18th in the NFL. The Cardinals give up 7.8 less yards per game than the Eagles.
Both the Cardinals and Eagles are better at stopping the pass than the run.
However, stopping the run will be key for the Cardinals to emerge victorious.
Hurts is a mobile QB for the Eagles, and Sanders is an elite rusher.
The Cardinals need to make it a priority to stop the run first for the Eagles. If the Cardinals can force Hurts to be a pocket passer, they will be successful at limiting the Eagles’ offense.
Cardinals win 27-21, Eagles (+6.5), under 49.5
The Eagles are coming off their best victory of the year, but I don’t think they will have enough momentum to win this one.
Hurts had a tremendous first start, but everyone has a rough time in their second outing. The Cardinals should be able to expose some of Hurts’ weaknesses, and I think Hurts still needs time to develop as an NFL-ready QB.
However, the main reason I don’t trust the Eagles is because I don’t think they will be able to slow Murray down enough.
Murray is a dynamic force as either a rusher or a passer, and I think he will be a nightmare for the injury-riddled Eagles’ defense. The gamer will be close as both teams are very similar, but the Cardinals have been more reliable this year.
I like the Cardinals to win, but I like the Eagles to cover the spread. I also think both teams will struggle at times to move the ball, so I’ll take the under.