Eagles

Eagles-Cardinals 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Cardinals 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles (3-1) are riding high after returning from Los Angeles with their second road win of the season. 

Meanwhile, the Cardinals (2-2) come to the Linc after an 18-15 overtime win against the 49ers at home. In fact, both of the Cardinals' wins have come in overtime. 

This Arizona team isn't the same one that won 13 games in 2015. The Cardinals have fallen off a little bit, going 7-8-1 last season. But they still have good players at key positions. 

Here are five matchups to watch on Sunday: 

Jared Veldheer vs. Brandon Graham 
The Cardinals' right tackle has struggled this season and is going against the Eagles' best edge rusher. Veldheer has given up two sacks, three QB hits and 16 QB hurries so far this season, according to ProFootballFocus. He really struggled against Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence.  

On a conference call with Philly reporters earlier this week, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said QB Carson Palmer is in the best shape he's ever been. 

"We've just got to quit getting him hit so much," Arians said. 

Palmer has been sacked 17 times through four games. That's more than any other quarterback in the NFL and just the eighth time in the last 10 years a QB has been sacked that much through four games. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles had eight sacks in the first two weeks of the season but have had just two over the last two weeks. Graham might have a chance in this one. 

Cardinals' running backs vs. Eagles' run defense
The Cardinals have the worst rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 57.0 yards per game. They're clearly missing David Johnson, who is out with a wrist injury. In his place, the Cards are using a combination of senior citizen Chris Johnson and former starter Andre Ellington. It hasn't gone that well. 

On the flip side, the Eagles have the second-best run defense in the league, giving up just 70.8 yards per game. 

Arians said he would like to be more balanced and run the ball but fourth quarters have dictated their lack of run game. They might try to get it going in Philly on Sunday but it won't be easy. 

Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Robinson
Fitzgerald is 34 years old and is still the Cardinals' best receiver. It's pretty insane. This season he has 26 catches for 276 yards and two TDs. He's on pace for what would be his ninth 1,000-yard season and his third straight. He should be slowing down, but the move into the slot a couple years ago has really given his career some extra length. 

Arians said most teams elect to use their slot cornerback against Fitzgerald and if the Eagles do that, it means Robinson will give it a go. Robinson came in as an outside starter for the Eagles but got bumped inside after they acquired Ronald Darby. Robinson's been great there so far this season. 

Now, in the past, Malcolm Jenkins has enjoyed this matchup against Fitzgerald. And there's a chance he might play there some on Sunday, but it'll depend on the health of Corey Graham. Graham has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. If Jenkins moves into the slot, the Eagles need Graham to take his spot at safety. 

"It would be a huge benefit to get Corey in there," Doug Pederson said. "And it does give Malcolm flexibility to move down into the box and play some nickel if need be." 

Alshon Jeffery vs. Patrick Peterson
Jeffery has been somewhat underwhelming through the first quarter of his first season with the Birds. He has 17 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He's on pace for 68 catches, 860 yards and eight touchdowns. Not bad, but not WR1-type numbers either. 

And this week, it won't get any easier. Peterson is one of the NFL's best cover corners. This is his seventh NFL season and he's already been to the Pro Bowl six times and has been All-Pro three times. Expect to see him stick with Jeffery all afternoon on Sunday. 

Jason Peters vs. Chandler Jones
The Cardinals lost Markus Golden for the season to an ACL tear but they still have Jones, their best pass rusher. He already has four sacks this season and is on pace for his third straight double-digit sack season. Jones is a handful. 

Most of Jones' snaps this season and all four of his sacks have come from the right side, which means he'll be going against Peters a lot on Sunday. But Peters has been incredible through four games. He has yet to give up a sack or a QB hit and has given up just four QB hurries. 

So maybe, the Cardinals want to move Jones over to the right tackle. The problem there is that Lane Johnson has been nearly as good. Either way, it'll be a good battle.

John Clark is keeping busy with Zoom, music, exercise and 'Curb'

John Clark is keeping busy with Zoom, music, exercise and 'Curb'

During this time of self-quarantine, we’re checking in with those in the Philly sports world to see How They’re Keeping Busy. Next up, NBC Sports Philadelphia airport specialist, John Clark.

What are you doing to keep busy during these strange times without live sports?

I am making sure to get outside every day and get some sort of exercise like running, biking, and tennis -- keeping plenty of physical distancing. Thank goodness the weather has been pretty good here. Places like Chicago, it’s tough to get outside when it’s in the 20s and 30s.

How are you getting your sports fill?

I am getting my sports fill right now covering NFL free agency and the Eagles moves. And tracking down the new Eagles players and doing interviews with them over the zoom app. It’s really hard for me to watch old games, except for the Eagles Super Bowl win. Part of sports for me is not knowing what’s going to happen. The suspense of that is amazing. My parents tape Villanova games and other sports and watch them sometimes a day later. I just can’t do that! And I would have heard what happened before it’s too late.

Tip(s) for everyone stuck at home who may be stressed?

Listen to plenty of music, the artists and songs that make you feel good. I have also tried to reach out to one person a day that I haven’t talked to in a long time that I am friends with or used to be friends with and we’ve lost touch.

Specific content you’d recommend to others? Anything you’re binging/reading/listening to?

If you want to laugh, I would suggest Curb Your Enthusiasm. And I watch Impractical Jokers a lot and the immature silly humor makes me laugh every time. Netflix standup comedy specials can give you a good laugh too. I think it’s also cool to go back and watch some concerts you have been to on YouTube or listening to them on Sirius radio, it brings you back to such a great night. Music always makes me think of good memories.

Is there a local business or charity you’re supporting during these tough times?

I am going to pick up food a lot because I wanna support restaurants and businesses that need it right now. I have friends who are restaurant owners who have laid off a lot of their staff and been forced to close down. Times are so tough for these businesses and I feel we need to support them. And I’m trying to leave bigger tips when picking up food.

Previously:

How the lengthy delay could hurt or help Flyers, Sixers, Phillies, Eagles

How the lengthy delay could hurt or help Flyers, Sixers, Phillies, Eagles

There will be sports again. I am confident of that. When that will happen and what it will look like remains to be seen. Will we jump right to the playoffs in the NHL and NBA or will they attempt to play regular season games? How many games will MLB look to play and how far are they willing to extend the season into late fall or even winter?  

We don’t know what we don’t know. But that doesn’t mean authentic fans can’t prepare right now. And we’re here to help. Here’s a prepared excuse for each of the Philadelphia sports teams if they come up short when play resumes. We’ll also give you a denial that the break was beneficial if each team performs especially well. 
 
FLYERS 

Potential Excuse: No team was hotter than the Flyers before the NHL postponed its season. So, it goes to reason that no team was hurt more by hitting the pause button. In a traditional season, the Flyers would have steamrolled their opponents just like they were doing in January, February, and early March. But then you lose momentum and a young team has to deal with a completely unique situation. Another Cup taken from us. 
 
Argument If Things Go Well: The Flyers were already rolling before the break. It really speaks to the mindset instilled by Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault that nothing could derail this juggernaut. Looks like a dynasty in the works. 
 
76ERS 

Potential Excuse: This Sixers team needs Joel Embiid going at 100 percent and it’s impossible for a man that size to be at top conditioning with that long of a break. It’s hard to think of a player in all of sports more negatively impacted by a months-long break than Embiid. It’s just not fair to the Sixers at all. 
 
Argument If Things Go Well: Everybody knew the Sixers didn’t care about the regular season this year. It was all about the playoffs. So it didn’t matter if it started in April or August, this team was going to bring it when it mattered. That’s why you sign a veteran like an Al Horford. For winning time. 
 
PHILLIES 

Potential Excuse: Starting pitching was always going to be the key. Aaron Nola was primed to win the Cy Young. Zach Wheeler was going to provide the best 1-2 punch in the National League. But a condensed schedule with a lack of training time diminished the Phillies’ greatest strength. MLB should have done a full spring training after the break and played 162 games, into the new year, if needed. 
 
Argument If Things Go Well: 2020 was always going to be better because of Joe Girardi. Gabe Kapler cost them like 20 games last season. Go back. Count them. But Girardi is a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been. Plus, he’s Philly tough. Blue collar. 
 
EAGLES 

Potential Excuse: No team was banking on new faces and a new structure more than the Eagles. The offensive coaching staff was overhauled. They needed all of the prep time they could get. The draft wasn’t even legit this year because there weren't enough in-person meetings. Everyone knows the game tape lies. You have to get to know a guy to see how he fits, especially inPhiladelphia. It’s not even a real season if you don’t have a full mini-camp, in my opinion. 
 
Argument If It Goes Well: Football wasn’t even impacted that much. We won the division last year regardless. Then we turned the team over to Carson Wentz and made him the top leadership voice. Carson’s always been a great leader. Everybody knows that. We just had to make sure his voice and Doug’s voice were the only ones being heard. I don’t think it’s crazy to say Carson might win the next 3-5 MVPs.