The Arizona Cardinals will play host to the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams are 2-0 and both teams have won in dramatic fashion. However, the two teams are very different. Philadelphia has the top offense in the league, averaging over 470 yards per game. The Cardinals? They average a paltry 249 yards per game.
On defense, Philadelphia allows less yards and stops teams more effectively in third down, but the Cardinals allow less points.
This has the potential to be a brutally physical game. Here are my five key matchups for the two teams as they battle on Sunday afternoon.
Patrick Peterson vs. DeSean Jackson
This is going to be fun. Peterson has the trust of his defensive coordinator to leave him on an island locked up with the opposing team's best receiver. With Jeremy Maclin out with injury, this will be the matchup in the passing game that will determine much on offense for Philly. Through two games, Jackson has not found the end zone, but has 11 catches for 191 yards. Peterson has a pick this year and allowed only one catch last week. If Peterson can have a similar performance, then you can bet that the Eagles will not have scored a ton of points.
Calais Campbell/Sam Acho vs. Demetress Bell
With starting left tackle King Dunlap out, the Eagles turn to a player that the Cardinals took a look at in the offseason -- tackle Demetress Bell. He will be tasked with protecting Michael Vick from the Cardinals rush on the left side. That would be Calais Campbell, who picked up a pair of sacks of Tom Brady last week, and Sam Acho. The Cardinals know how it is to have their starting left tackle out, and it is trouble. Granted, it is not Vick's blind side, but it is the side from where the Cardinals have gotten the most sacks in over the past year.
Bobby Massie vs. Jason Babin
The rookie starting right tackle gets his toughest task yet. Babin has only one sack so far this season, but had a career high 18 in 2011. Massie has been surprisingly effective in the young season. Through two games, he has not been penalized and he has not allowed a sack. If he can keep Babin away from Kevin Kolb, it will be yet another success for the young tackle.
Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams vs. the Philadelphia front seven
The Eagles have allowed a little over 100 yards rushing per game. That puts them right in the middle of the pack in the league. The Cardinals have been hoping to have an effective running attack to make the game easier for their quarterback. That hasn't been the case. One third of the team's rushing yards come from non-running backs. The two longest runs of the year have come from Patrick Peterson and Andre Roberts. Wells and Williams have combined for 80 yards rushing -- through two games. Williams has fumbled twice this season already.
If Arizona can run the ball, it will open up the passing attack and give the offense some life. Overall, the Cardinals offense is only producing 249 yards per game. Unless someone steps up, the offense will continue to look anemic. The key? Philly is allowing almost five yards a carry.
LeSean McCoy vs the Arizona Cardinals front seven
Statistically, the Cardinals have not been world beaters in rushing defense, but they have not been abused by any running back. Marshawn Lynch ran for 85 yards and Stevan Ridley gained 71 yards. The Cardinals are making life difficult, though. They are ninth in the league in yards allowed per carry. Run attempts gain only 3.4 yards per carry. Now, McCoy is a special back. He has 191 yards rushing in two games and a touchdown. He averages over four yards a carry.
McCoy is the type of back that can take over the game, whether it be on the ground or in the air. However, he was held to 81 yards on the ground last year in Philadelphia against the Cardinals.
Linebacker Daryl Washington has been a beast so far. In two games he already has 23 tackles, a sack and a pass deflection. He will be flying around the field making plays and he and McCoy will likely collide more than a few times.
There are other matchups to watch as well. How will Michael Vick play against the penetration of Campbell and Darnell Dockett? Dockett has been unblockable and has been disrupting plays on a consistent basis. Larry Fitzgerald puts up big numbers against the Eagles. the Eagles play a lot of man coverage with their corners. That could be a big matchup with them and Fitz and Andre Roberts. Tight end Brent Celek is the Eagles' leading receiver. His matchup with the Cardinals defense will be interesting.
Who will win these matchups? Who will turn the ball over less? They will determine the winner of this game. It is sure to be another really good one.
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