Eagles-Cardinals predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Cardinals predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles are 3-1 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC East.

After playing three of their first four games on the road, they now come home to play four of their next five in the confines of Lincoln Financial Field.

Not a bad position to be in.

The Eagles host the 2-2 Cardinals on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX) in Week 5 with a chance to stay atop the division.

Will they improve to 4-1 before their Thursday night game in Week 6?

Our experts provide their predictions:

Reuben Frank (4-0)
For all their weapons, all their speed, all their explosiveness, the Arizona Cardinals have scored a grand total of six offensive touchdowns this year. Only the 49ers and Dolphins have scored fewer.

For the third straight week, the Eagles are facing a potential Hall of Fame quarterback, one who is capable of piling up the yards and points. Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer all rank among the top 13 quarterbacks in NFL history in passing yards, so it’ll be another big challenge for this young, undermanned secondary. But the Eagles found a way to get past Manning and they found a way to get past Rivers, and I expect them to find a way to get past Palmer as well.

The Cards have a terrible offensive line and with David Johnson on the shelf, they don’t run the ball well at all. They’re averaging just 57 rushing yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry. They’re one of only 22 teams in NFL history with fewer than 230 rushing yards and an average below 2.8 yards per carry four games into a season.

I don’t think a one-dimensional team can come into the Linc and beat the Eagles. I see this being a pretty easy one.

Eagles 30, Cardinals 17

Dave Zangaro (3-1)
The Eagles are going to miss Fletcher Cox and Wendell Smallwood, no doubt. But the Cardinals just aren't a very good football team. It seems like fans are remembering that 13-win team from a couple years ago and this team just isn't nearly that talented. The Cardinals come into this game with a 2-2 record and both of their wins have come in overtime. 

No, the Eagles haven't been perfect. But they're the better team. Even without Cox, the Eagles will be able to pressure Palmer, who stands behind a weak offensive line that has let him get sacked an NFL-high 17 times. 

Bruce Arians said he wants his team to be balanced but without Johnson, it can't seem to get the run game going. That makes the Cardinals extremely one-dimensional. They still have speed on the outside and Larry Fitzgerald inside but if Palmer doesn't have time to throw, it won't matter. 

The Eagles should win this game before a tough Thursday night matchup in Carolina. 

Eagles 27, Cardinals 17

Derrick Gunn (4-0)
The Cardinals have been hard to figure out. They struggled to beat the Colts and 49ers and got handled by the Lions and Cowboys. Their offense is ranked No. 11 overall, but they've struggled to score, averaging just 18.5 points. And they can’t run the ball, either. Since their star running back went down with a dislocated wrist, the Cards' run game has been stagnant and it currently sits dead last in the league in rushing (57 yards per game).

Palmer has the second-most passing yards but has been the most-sacked QB in the league (17 times). Their No. 7-ranked defense is big and rugged but suffered a big blow when LB Markus Golden was lost for the season with an ACL injury.

Carson Wentz has matured into his role in the offense, making better decisions with the ball. The Birds' run game has given them a balance that takes pressure off the QB. Cox has been ruled out, but there’s still enough talent in the trenches to make life miserable for Palmer. The back end of the Birds' defense is giving up too many big plays and that could be a big problem this week because the Cardinals' speed at wide receiver is better than the Chargers'. If Jim Schwartz's guys get to Palmer, the Birds will get the win. 

Eagles 24, Cardinals 20 

*Here are Derrick's Week 5 NFL picks.

Ray Didinger (4-0)
This was one of those games that looked tough — even a little scary — when the schedule first came out. The Eagles haven't had much luck against the Cardinals (1-5 since the January 2009 title game) or against the NFC West in general (2-9 in the last 11 meetings). I thought the Cardinals coming here early in the season when the weather was still good was a difficult matchup for an Eagles defense that had so many questions in the secondary.

The Eagles still have questions in the secondary — they rank 30th in pass defense — and we all know what the ageless Fitzgerald has done to the Eagles over the years, but the Cardinals aren't the team we thought they would be. The loss of Johnson, their star running back, has crippled the offense. They can't run the ball (2.7 yards per carry), so defenses are happily teeing off on Palmer, who is being sacked (17 times) and hit (43 times) more than any other quarterback in football. This should be a fun day for Schwartz's defense.

This looks like a matchup of one team on the way down and one team on the way up. The Eagles are the team on the way up.

Eagles 28, Cardinals 17

Andrew Kulp (4-0)
Fitzgerald could do some damage against this Eagles secondary — assuming Palmer has time to throw. Palmer will follow Rivers before him, and Manning before him, and get the ball out quickly. However, the Cardinals' O-line might be even worse than that of the Chargers or Giants, so even without Cox for the second week in a row, expect the 37-year-old quarterback to get bum-rushed.

Arizona's defense is what's kept the team in a lot of games, and I suspect it will do the same here. But while the Eagles' secondary might surrender a few big plays against a speedy receiving corps, the front should also be able to force some three-and-outs and provide the offense with favorable field position. Wentz is taking care of the football, and Jake Elliott is feeling it right now, so it should be just enough.

Eagles 23, Cardinals 21

Corey Seidman (2-2)
This is a great spot for the Eagles' defense against a bad Cardinals offensive line that has allowed 16 sacks in its last three games and a turnover-prone Palmer, who already has five interceptions and a fumble.

It should be a tough day for Alshon Jeffery, so the Eagles will need more out of Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. I also expect an Eagles defensive touchdown in this one.

Eagles 27, Cardinals 17

Andy Schwartz (4-0) 
Hmm, are the Eagles due for a clunker? 

Could be, especially considering it’s the Cardinals. Ricky Proehl and MarTay Jenkins still give me nightmares.

And now they still have the venerable Fitzgerald, who always hammers the Eagles.

You can bet Schwartz will quadruple team Fitzgerald and force the Cardinals to beat the Birds another way. 

But they won’t. Not this week.

Fitz will still get his, but the Cards — sans Johnson — don’t have enough firepower, especially after a cross-country trip. 

Eagles 23, Cardinals 17

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

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David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

Editor's note: This story originally ran Aug. 31.

When you talk about David Akers, you pretty much have to talk about opening day 2000.
It wasn’t just the hottest game in NFL history and one of the Eagles' greatest wins over the Cowboys, it was the start of an 11-year run in which the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and averaged 10½ wins per year.
And when Akers talks about memories of his 12 years with the Eagles, he has to start on that blazing hot afternoon, Sept. 3, 2000, at Texas Stadium.
"It was my first game, first year as a full-time kicker, my first kickoff as a full-time kicker," Akers recalled. "And Andy Reid comes in before the game and says if we lose the coin toss, we're opening the game with an onside kick.
"I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' I was really worried about not doing well and now we're starting the game with an onside kick? I had already been cut by three teams, and I was like, 'Man, if I screw this up, I might as well just pack up and leave.' "
As we all know, Akers' onside kick was perfect, Dameane Douglas recovered, and just a few minutes later Donovan McNabb's TD pass to Stanley Pritchett had the Eagles on their way to a historic 41-14 win over the Cowboys in what came to be known as the Pickle Juice Game.
Before he was finished with the Eagles, Akers scored a franchise-record 1,323 points and played a franchise-record 188 games. Along with Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins, he became one of four players in franchise history to play in 10 postseason wins.
On Wednesday evening, Akers learned that this fall he'll become the 50th inductee in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
Akers is scheduled to be inducted Oct. 23 at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.
“I loved my time in Philly," said Akers, who kicked here from 1999 through 2010. "The fans changed my life. People talk about the billboard we left (when he left Philly), but honestly, it was a true bottom-of-the-heart thank you from my family.
"I hope when the fans look at everything, they know I tried the best I could. I always did it for the team, the organization, the fans, and the reality is that none of us are perfect and obviously I would like to have some field goals back in my career, but if I rewrote how things went down, I probably wouldn’t change very much. And I wouldn’t change where I played my 12 years."
After getting cut by the Panthers, Redskins and Falcons as an undrafted kicker out of Louisville, Akers found a home in Philadelphia. And even though he finished his career with brief stops in San Francisco and Detroit — it was with the 49ers that he tied the then-NFL record with a 63-yard field goal — it was in Philly that he put up historic numbers and made five of his six Pro Bowls.
In NFL history, only three kickers have played in more postseason wins with the same team than Akers — Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has played in 15, Adam Vinatieri played in 13 for the Patriots and Roy Gerela of the 1970s Steelers played in 11.
"The one thing about Philly fans, they’re so passionate, and it was an honor to play for them as long as I did," Akers said. "They go to the games when we're not doing well. They let you hear it but they're always going to be there. And when you're doing well? This is the greatest city to be around when you're playing well, and guys who don’t get a chance to experience that, it’s a shame."
Akers ranks 12th in NFL history with 1,721 points and 11th in history with 386 total field goals. He's the No. 2 scorer in NFL postseason history with 175 points, 59 fewer than Vinatieri.
He's also 12th in NFL history with 27 field goals over 50 yards.
And now he joins five former teammates — Dawkins, McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent — along with Jim Johnson as the seventh representative of the Andy Reid Eagles in the team's Hall of Fame.
“When Mr. Lurie (owner Jeffrey Lurie) called me, I have to say that I was shocked but humbled just because I have so much gratitude for what the Eagles did for me," Akers said.
"They gave me the opportunity when the Redskins and Panthers and Falcons had not been successful for me. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the opposite way, and I missed a 49-yarder, then got cut two days later.
"It's unbelievable how quickly those 12 years went with the Eagles. Such great runs with so many wonderful players and great coaches, a lot of who were very successful after moving on from the Eagles."
Akers learned he had been selected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night during the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at the Linc.
"Obviously the one thing that sticks with me is the last time I played in an Eagles uniform is not a day I'd like to remember (2010 playoff loss to the Packers)," he said.
"So it was a little surreal being back on the stage at the Linc where a lot of other positive memories happened. Looking back on my career, just overwhelmed with gratitude, to be honest with you."

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

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Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold and the Dallas Cowboys beat the winless San Francisco 49ers 40-10 on Sunday.

Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.

Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter and then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas' first possession of the second half to put the 49ers (0-7) away. Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.

That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter (see full recap). 

Goff leads Rams to shutout as Cardinals' Palmer breaks arm
Already one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams found a new gear against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jared Goffran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2), who finished with 425 yards of offense - their most in a game in more than three years.

Los Angeles has also won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003, which was the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

"We haven't been in this position, but we're definitely grateful," Gurley said. "We've just got to take it game by game."

Arizona (3-4), meanwhile, heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer broke his left arm in the second quarter (see full recap).

Saints recover late to topple Packers 
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The way that the New Orleans Saints won on the road on Sunday might serve as a valuable lesson in their quest to return to the playoffs.

The defense gave up a long touchdown run on the first series to the Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees had two interceptions — and the Saints weren't even out of the first quarter yet at Lambeau Field.

But Brees bounced back to throw for a touchdown and run for another, Mark Ingram rushed for a score and the Saints recovered for a 26-17 win.

Green Bay lost its first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for the injured Aaron Rodgers (see full recap).

Wilson throws 2 second-half TDs, Seahawks D dominates Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seattle Seahawk limited the New York Giants' receiver depleted offense to 177 yards in a 24-7 win on Sunday.

Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession and he closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.

The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and just 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.

The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes (see full recap).