Sam Bradford and gang pieced together a good enough performance versus Buffalo to place themselves in a three way tie atop the NFC East. They will be facing a much better and more disciplined defense in Arizona this week. Calais Campbell brings toughness and skill to the front seven while Patrick Peterson brings freakish athletic ability to the secondary of the Cardinals. Tyrann Mathieu is the definition of a playmaker and defensive coordinator James Bettcher uses him in a variety of roles which he excels in. The positives I saw from the Eagles offense was the consistent deep attempts they took in Week 14 and connected on one to Nelson Agholor for his first NFL touchdown. Agholor then proceeded to almost blow his knee out in the endzone trying to stop or celebrate I’m not quite sure which. The running back rotation was pretty even between Demarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Mathews technically received the start in his return from concussion and still provided a physical style. Murray had a few nice runs though he’s still struggling to hit the holes with speed and getting to the edge is a challenge as well. Arizona ranks 4th overall in team defense and allows 19.4 points per game to opponents.
Player to Watch: Jordan Matthews
The supposed number one receiver on this Eagles roster has been missing in action the past month or so outside of the touchdown he hauled in Week 13 at New England. In the past five games, Matthews high for catches in a game is 4 against Tampa where he only recorded 13 yards off those receptions. After his game winning touchdown in Dallas the second year wideout has struggled to get open and perform the way this offense needs him to. It may be a byproduct of teams focusing more on Matthews or the quarterback change during that span as well. Either way over the final stretch of this season it’s imperative that Matthews step his game up or I don’t think the Eagles have enough on offense to make the postseason.
Matchup to Watch: Zach Ertz vs. Tyrann Mathieu
I referenced earlier how the Cardinals love to move the Honey Badger all over the field including at the line of scrimmage and at the safety position. Mathieu will likely draw the assignment of tight end Zach Ertz who typically lines up in the slot for certain formations. Ertz had 5 catches for 98 yards in the Buffalo game which hopefully can propel him throughout the rest of the regular season. However, this week may be a challenge as Mathieu is one of the most aggressive and ball hawking players in the league. Ertz clearly has the size advantage, but Mathieu has the speed and agility to keep pace with Ertz who can pose a matchup problem for some teams. Ertz and Jordan Matthews are both big keys to the Eagles winning this game.
Matchup to Watch: Deone Buchanon
Buchanon was drafted in the first round in 2014 as a safety out of Washington State. He’s since made the transition to inside linebacker for Arizona where he starts and capitalizes on his physical style of play. This is another example of the creativity and terrific coaching which Arians has instilled as the culture for the Cardinals success. Buchanon still has the ability to cover as if he were a safety, but provides a quickness along with power to the position which most teams cannot duplicate. Him and fellow inside backer Kevin Minter combine for one of the more underrated pairs in the league. The Eagles love running edge sweep plays where the guards and center Jason Kelce pull. They struggled to find to success on this play against Carolina who has speedy linebackers just like Arizona. While Buchanon is not near the player Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis is he’s still a threat nonetheless.
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