When the Arizona Cardinals face off against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Cardinals’ temporary home of the University of Phoenix Stadium, more than just bragging rights and a 54-53-5 series record in favor of the Cards will be on the line (4.05pm ET, Sunday, September 23).
On top of both teams being 2-0, this match-up features the quarterback from the Eagles’ past, Kevin Kolb (pictured), and the guy they invested $100 million in for the future in Michael Vick.
For both teams, the 2-0 start is a bit shocking and a bit unexpected. Regardless of how the teams started however, what will matter is how they finished. Both teams are certainly going to want this one as it could determine who makes the playoffs and who falls just short.
Let’s take a look at the key match-ups that could make a difference.
Michael Vick vs. the Cardinals Defense
Eagles QB Mike Vick has really not been himself this season. Starting with the fact that he has thrown for over 300 yards and rushed for just a little over 30 in back-to-back game, Vick’s season has not really been congruent with what he has done during his NFL career.
Formerly considered the type of quarterback that thinks ‘run then throw,’ Vick has adapted his style of play in the past few years. Although he can still run, partly brought on by the Eagles’ brass, Vick has committed to throwing the ball more. This season however, it hasn’t really worked as planned.
Of course you can question how this is a bad thing considering that the Eagles are 2-0 but when you look beyond the win-loss record, it tells the story of a QB and an offense that is struggling.
Vick has seven turnovers, six of which are interceptions, in just two games. RB Lesean McCoy also has two fumbles bringing the Eagles turnover number to a shattering nine on the season. As a team, the Eagles have just five offensive touchdowns.
BetOnline Betting Lines (accepts all USA clients):
-120 Eagles -3pts; +100 Cardinals +3pts
Bovada (all US except Maryland, Utah, NY, Washington):
+105 Eagles -3.5pts; -125 Cardinals +3.5pts
Bet365 (for UK & all non-USA residents):
5/6 Eagles -3pts; 1/1 (evens) Cardinals +3pts
In summary these numbers show that the Eagles, Vick especially, has thrown one more interception than the Eagles have managed to score a TD for. Miraculously however, the Eagles are still undefeated on the season. They are still in possession of a league best six game winning streak entering into week three of the 2013 season.
Unfortunately for Vick and the Eagles, their match-up against the Cardinals puts them against yet another team that is not too shabby in the department of defense. In their week one game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals forced two turnovers: a fumble and an interception. In week two against the Patriots, the Cardinals picked off Tom Brady once as well.
Although the Cardinals defense certainly isn’t the best in the league, the team does have a strong secondary that could cause Vick come problems. It has been some bad decision making that has led to Vick’s seven turnovers.
Part of it has been not staying in the pocket long enough and trying to create a play where there is none. In the past, Vick would utilize the run in this situation but with a second rib injury in as many years hampering him, the Eagles’ QB is trying to stay off of the ground as much as possible.
Kevin Kolb vs. the Eagles Defense
Going into his week three match-up against the Eagles, Cardinal’s QB Kevin Kolb has two things working against him. The first of which is that the Eagles have forced six turnovers this season, five of which have been interceptions. The second thing is that he is going against his old team and that they know exactly what his offensive patterns are.
This is not the first time the Eagles have played the Cardinals since trading Kolb but it will be the first time that the Card’s signal caller will be going up against his old team. An injury last year forced him to miss this head-to-head match-up but this season he is ready to go. The question remaining is how will he fare?
On the season, Kolb and the Cardinals offense are having a bit of an unexpected start. In fact, Kolb didn’t even win the starting job after training camp. His season began as a back-up. When he was forced to enter the game after John Skelton went down however, Kolb took advantage of his opportunity.
In the Cardinals’ week one win against the Seahawks, Kolb was 6-for-8 with 66 passing yards and a touchdown. In week two, he added 140 yards in the air, 20 on the ground and another two TDs. He was 15-of-27 with a 55.6 completion percentage.
As the numbers show, Kolb has not been spectacular by any means this season. What he has done however is keep the Cardinals in a place where they could and in fact have won games. He has no turnovers on the season as well.
The biggest knock against Kolb on his career has been his inability to make quick decisions in the pocket. That said, this really hasn’t been a major concern this season as Kolb has gotten the ball out quickly. He has been sacked just once this season and opposing defense have not had many opportunities.
Unfortunately for Kolb the zero turnovers and one sack numbers are probably going to change against the Eagles. This is where the advantage goes to the green birds for knowing the intricacies of Kolb’s game and of course the great Eagle blitz.
Facing the Seahawks and the Patriots, Kolb has not really gone against a team with a heavy blitz. When he faces the Eagles however this is exactly what he will face. In addition Kolb will have to face off against a newly revamped Eagles defensive line that has done its job pressuring the QB this season.
Trent Cole and Jason Babin, the two pro-bowl stalwarts of this line combined last season for 29 sacks placing them in the top three tandems of the NFL in this category. Add to this, the rookie standout of Fletcher Cox (seven tackles, one sack in two games) and the former CFL tackle Philip Hunt (eight tackles, two sacks in two games), the Eagles boast incredible talent on the front line.
Eagles at Cardinals Betting Picks Verdict
The Eagles find themselves going into this match-up with quite a few men down. They are fielding an offensive line that is less than stellar and will be playing without two-year center Jason Kelce. On top of this, Vick’s most targeted receiver this season in Jeremy Maclin, with his 119 yards and two touchdowns,will also miss the game due to injury.
Lesean McCoy could have a big game against the Cardinals’ 14th ranked rushing defense but, so far this season, he has been unable to break out the way he did in 2011. This game could serve as that break out.
The Eagles have not done bettors well this season with the way they keep pulling out one point victories in the closing minutes of the game. This week will probably be more of the same.
With the spread currently set at -3pts or -3.5pts (depending on sportsbook), it is hard to pick the Eagles to cover this handicap margin. For this reason, even if the Eagles do win which on paper they should, pick the Cardinals +3pts to win and for the game to be decided by a late minute field goal.
- To summarize the betting pick: Americans should bet on the Cardinals +3pts with BetOnline Sportsbook @ +100 (it is +3.5pts with Bovada @ -125). Non-American residents can make this play with Bet365 Bookmaker, who also go Cardinals +3pts at the same betting line of evens.