A reinvigorated Philadelphia Eagles travel to Arizona Cardinals on Sunday seeking a second win on the trot (4.05pm ET; TV: Live on Fox).
Rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts looked great in his first career start and the Eagles were able to win outright as 7-point home underdogs against the Saints. I for one was shocked to see how well he performed against a Saints defense that was 2nd in the NFL in DVOA heading into last week. They had gone 55 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Hurts and running back Miles Sanders were both able to surpass 100 yards on the ground.
The Cardinals handled the Giants on the road 26-7 thanks to a dominant performance by their defense. The Cardinals are now sitting in the 7th and final playoff spot in the NFC after the Vikings lost to the Buccaneers.
The Eagles are two games back in the division at 4-8-1 and are all but eliminated from the playoff picture. As we saw last week they certainly have not given up on the season and will be playing hard for the rookie quarterback, who is officially set to make his second start this week.
Was Carson Wentz the main issue with the Eagles’ lackluster offense? I personally think it had more to do with the offensive line being riddled with injuries, but I wouldn’t fault anyone for arguing that after watching how much success Hurts had last week. The Saints are one of the best defenses in the league against the run and at getting after the quarterback. Hurts ran for 106 yards on 18 carries and wasn’t sacked once. This was the first game of the season that the Saints’ defense did not record a sack.
Hurts’ mobility helped an offensive line that has struggled for much of the season. Also, the fact that they established the run with both Hurts and Miles Sanders helped protect a beleaguered line. Sanders was able to add 115 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on 14 carries. Hurts brought an energy that had been missing with Wentz under center.
Head Coach Doug Pederson committed to a run, pass, option offense playing off the strength of Hurts’ explosiveness with his legs and Sanders, who is arguably their best offensive weapon. Pederson is now 10-4 against the spread without Wentz as his starter. With Wentz as his starter he is only 32-37 ATS. We will see if that trend will continue and if Hurts can get his second career win in as many weeks against a Cardinals’ defense that can be exploited.
The Cardinals can be beat through the ground game, which is what we saw the Eagles do best against the Saints last week. The Saints have a significantly stronger rush defense and the Eagles moved the ball on the ground with relative ease. The Cards rank 18th in rushing yards allowed per game and surrender on average 119.5 yards per game on the ground. I expect the Eagles to game plan against this weakness and look to get Hurts and Sanders out in space again this week.
The Cardinals did well against the Giants and were able to hold them to only 78 yards on the ground. The Cardinals’ pass rush dominated the game and was able to record eight sacks on the day, which disrupted anything the Giants were trying to do offensively. Running back Wayne Gallman was able to pick up 58 yards on 12 carries but Daniel Jones did not record a single rush attempt. Jones is generally more mobile, but the Giants fell behind quick and had to abandon the run.
The Giants are 14th in the NFL and average 116.5 rushing yards per game. The Eagles are a top 10 unit in the ground game. I expect them to stick with the run and have much more success than the Giants did. The Eagles rank 9th and average 126.5 yards on the ground per game. They looked much more explosive with Hurts under center and ran the ball with ease against a Saints defense that only gives up on average 89.2 rushing yards per game. The Eagles were able to gain 246 yards on the ground and controlled the ball for 30 minutes. I can see the Eagles having similar success if Pederson and the offense are willing to commit to a similar game plan.
Our Betting Preview’s Philadelphia Eagles vs Arizona Cardinals Predictions & Picks Verdict
I am locking the Eagles in early this week. They are currently +7pts (-125) on BetOnline and +6 (-103) on Bookmaker. I think this line will continue to creep down in favor of the Eagles. I could see this ultimately closing with Philly being around 5-point road dogs. I wanted to get ahead of this and take the +7pts before that disappears.
The Cardinals have won only four games by more than seven this season. One was against Washington in week 2 with Dwayne Haskins at quarterback, one was against the winless New York Jets, one was against the Cowboys with Andy Dalton under center and last week against the Giants. The Cardinals aren’t currently in good enough form to be 7-point favorites against an Eagles team that is still playing tough. Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury is 1-4 against the spread as a home favorite.
I think this is too high of a line and that the Eagles could very well win this game outright. I see this being a competitive and close game that the Cardinals barely edge out a victory in. Ultimately this will be a 27-24 victory for Arizona, but a cover by the Eagles. So to conclude, the Philadelphia Eagles vs Arizona Cardinals predictions for this USAbetting preview are: