2008 Season NFL Football Past Picks

January 18, 2009

18

Philadelphia at Arizona

Sunday 01/18 03:00 PM Eastern

5 units on Philadelphia -3 (-120) (risk 5 to return 5)  RESULT: loss

2 units on Game Total UNDER 47 -105 (risk 2 to return 2)  RESULT: loss

The Eagles, who were left for dead after a 10-3 loss to the Redskins in week 16, have certainly come together at the right time. I mentioned last week in picking them that they reminded me somewhat of the 2007-08 Giants - a team that peaked at the right time and became a force in the playoffs. Last week's road win over the top seed in the NFC only reinforces that feeling. Donovan McNabb, benched at mid-season, has come back with the old passion and form. Over the past seven games, he has thrown for 1,643 yards, 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. With Brian Westbrook struggling, McNabb has taken over. From week three to week twelve, McNabb completed just two games with a QB rating of 90 or better. Over the last seven weeks, he has put up a 92.5+ rating in five games. That isn't all the Eagles are bringing to the table however over the past several weeks. While the Ravens and Steelers defenses are getting all the press, the Eagles defense is playing better than anyone's lately! They have not allowed any opponent to score more than 14 points in the last six weeks. Neither Baltimore nor Pittsburgh can boast those kind of numbers. Arizona's stats look good - good enough to make you wonder if they can win this game, especially playing at home. They won their division. Their offense put up 29+ points nine times during the regular season. But, is this team really any good? Here are some numbers that might make you wonder. The Cardianls are a product of a horrible division which provided a gift of six wins (compare that to the Eagle's division of the NFC East). As a result, ten weeks into the season Arizona had things already locked up. This is a division in which the other three teams finished a collective 13-35 on the season, and consequently the Cards went 6-0 inside their pathetic division. The bad news for the Cards backers this week comes from doing a little math. Outside of their division games, this team was 3-7! I think it is safe to say if Zona was in the NFC East like the Eagles, they wouldn't be here. In fact, Zona was 1-3 on the season vs. the NFC East, getting outscored by an average of 10 ppg, including a 28-point thrashing by this Eagles team on Thanksgiving Night. The NFC East QB's would be enshrined in the Hall of Fame if they could play against the Cardinals each week.  In the four games against the Cardinals defense, NFC East QBs combined to go 99-141 (70%) for 1,018 yards, with 12 TDs and no INTs. The running games of these four NFC opponents put up 120.3 yards a game as well. But the Cards are team of destiny that is also peaking at the right time, right? Heck they weren't given a great chance at home vs. Atlanta but won. They were given no chance last week in Carolina but won outright easily as a 10 point dog. They have rediscoverd the run, and Warner is hot... Not so fast. They certainly played well in the Wild Card game. Credit given. However, remember that they beat an Atlanta team, with a rookie QB, that was .500 on the road this year. But, what about last week? Throw it out! The Cards caught a Jake Delhomme meltdown for the ages, as he personally was responsible for six turnovers. With that kind of performance by Delhomme, how could Arizona not win that game? The stuffed suits talk about shutting down Carolina's vaunted running game, but the Panthers simply got down big early and had to pass most of the game. And, Carolina's defense didn't show up either. They inexplicably failed to cover Larry Fitzgerald - all game. The Eagles won't do that. In fact, compared to the Eagles' defense, Atlanta and Carolina are going to look like High-School opponents. Warner, Edge, Fitz and Boldin are in for a rude awakening in my opinion. This is the best defense they have faced in six weeks - by far. The team they faced six weeks ago? Philly. Arizona in fact hasn't played a single game against a great defense all year (unless you count the Eagles in week 13 and maybe the Giants in week 12). Carolina simply seemed overconfident and lazy last week and they didn't show up. After that surprise, and what Fitzgerald was able to do, you can bet Philadelphia won't be caught off guard. I think the Eagles defense, which is playing better than anyone's right now, puts a lot of pressure on Warner and stops the running game cold. You give Warner time, and he can pick you apart. You put him on his back with creative blitzes (see Jim Johnson defense) and physical corner play, and this vaunted offense could really struggle. No one is scoring on this Eagles defense right now, and that makes the UNDER attractive here as well. Simply put, I think the Eagles are not only the better team here, but the MUCH better team. We have a top 3 defense facing a below-average, honestly, weak defense. If not for a 9-3 turnover advantage in their first two playoff games, the Cards wouldn't be here. Philly is playing great (especially on defense) and the Philly players have more playoff experince. Their coach is playoff-tested while Arizona's is brand new to this. Take the Eagles and the UNDER here.

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