Friday, January 16, 2009

How the Cardinals Can Win

Eagles fans are very confident right now. It's almost eerie, actually. I don't think they are overlooking Arizona so much as they are just sold on the Eagles. Very unusual stuff.

I think the Eagles should be favored, but Arizona can absolutely win this game. Here are some of the ways they'd do it:

* Protect Warner --- The Eagles didn't sack Kurt once in the first meeting. He was pressured regularly, but never got really pounded. The Cardinals OL is playing better right now. They have more of a running game and that helps. Also, good OL play is about timing and rhythm. ARZ only ran 10 times in their loss to us. No OL can get into a good flow with that few runs. That makes Andy Reid look like Chuck Knox. Late in the year the Cardinals re-inserted Edgerrin James as the starter and Tim Hightower went back to being the backup. This made them better at each spot. Edge isn't a good backup and Tim struggled as the starter.

Running more helped the OL. Those guys are playing with more confidence now. Teams can't just tee off and rush the passer. That helps when they do decide to throw the ball. Warner has only been sacked twice in the last 3 games. He's getting time to make his reads and get the ball out.

If the OL can keep Warner clean on Sunday it will be tough for the back seven to cover the Cards. They have a great receiver in Fitz, an almost great receiver in Boldin, and a heck of a #3 in Breaston. Then you mix in throws to the TEs or Urban or dumpoffs to the RBs. Warner has a lot of options. If given time he will find the right guy and they will move the ball.

* Score TDs --- The Cardinals have a pair of great Red Zone WRs in Boldin and Fitz. They are tough to keep out of the endzone if they get down close. We've been very up and down inside the 10-yard line in the last couple of games. If the Cards can score TDs that will put a lot of pressure on us.

* Hope Fitz Stays Hot --- Larry Fitzgerald is on a hot streak in the playoffs. He's catching everything thrown his way. He's coming up with big plays and scoring TDs. Most frustrating, he's even beating good defense. He's been double-covered a couple of times and still made the catch. How do you stop a guy who outjumps double teams? Westy got shutdown by the Giants. They took him away. No one has been able to take Fitz away from the Cards offense to this point.

* Get Off The Ball --- Darnell Dockett can explode off the ball when he times his get-off right with the snap. He'll guess and take a penalty from time to time, but will also deliver some big plays. He knocked the ball loose on the handoff vs ATL and it turned into a defensive TD for Rolle. Bert Berry can fly off the edge. Antonio Smith is good for a big play on occasion. Guys like Chike Okeafor, Gerald Hayes, and Karlos Dansby can make plays in the backfield.

If ARZ can get penetration and be disruptive they'll put a lot of pressure on the Eagles offense. Penetration leads to TFLs, hurried throws, and possibly fumbles. The Cardinals aren't good enough to shut down a good opponent without creating some havoc plays and getting turnovers. They can do both, especially at home.

* Big Game Kurt --- Kurt Warner is 3-1 in NFC-CGs and SBs combined. That's pretty good. He had some elite company in those games (at least 3 HOF players on his side in each), but he still came up big when needed. He's tough to rattle.

I think the Eagles defense will be too much to overcome, but this game is hard to get a handle on. How much better will the Cardinals be because of being at home? Will they respond to the game with nerves or will they come out loose? Can the Eagles adjust from running teams to a passing team with a great receiver?

I'm sticking with the Eagles because I see them taking care of business right now. They aren't just "hot" per se. They're playing really well. No luck plays or flukes are involved. This is good execution. They've won in 2 hostile places. They've beaten great runners and defenders. It's hard to believe a great receiver will be their undoing (although that would be very ironic based on Reid / fanbase's attitude toward star receivers).

Less than 48 hours til kickoff.


T_S_O_P said...

DRC is also hot hot hot and as a rookie, he doesn't know the Cards are meant to be rubbish!

Tommy Lawlor said...

Good point. Don't you hate it when kids don't understand their place in the world. Someone needs to remind him to make mistakes, not plays.