How much can change in four years? Remember the last time the Eagles played the Ravens? Quarterback of the future Kevin Kolb came in to relieve Donovan McNabb at halftime for the Eagles. Next on the docket for the Eagles would be the Arizona Cardinals, quarterbacked by Kurt Warner. Now? The Eagles are once again moving from the Ravens to the Cardinals, but this time Michael Vick leads the Eagles and Kolb readies to face his former team for the first time.
Kolb didn't play in last season's Eagles-Cardinals matchup at Lincoln Financial Field, a game in which John Skelton led the Cardinals to a come-from-behind victory. Now, despite losing the preseason battle for the starting job, Kolb has the Cardinals sitting at 2-0 relieving an injured Skelton and leading the Cardinals to a home victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 followed by an exceedingly impressive road victory over the New England Patriots in Week 2. It's certainly too early to think about playoff implications, but the Cardinals and Eagles are two of the four undefeated NFC teams through two games and only one will remain so by Sunday night.
The familiarity between Kolb and the Eagles coaching staff is a two-way road which should create an interesting chess match when the Cardinals are on offense. One of the players on the Eagles defense will be making a homecoming of his own Sunday as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, acquired in the trade that sent Kolb to Arizona, returns to his old stomping grounds.
The key to the Cardinals' fast start though has been their defense, which ranks fourth in the league yards allowed per play (4.33). The Cardinals have been especially strong in pass defense, thanks in part to the emergence of second-year cornerback Patrick Peterson as an elite cover corner. Expect Peterson to be match up early and often with DeSean Jackson.
Last Time They Met:
November 13, 2011 – Cardinals 21, Eagles 17: Without DeSean Jackson, who was deactivated on game day, the Eagles failed to close out John Skelton, Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals at home. To add injury to insult, Michael Vick would miss the next three games after suffering a broken rib during the game.
|Tale Of The Tape (2012 Stats)|
|Points Scored Per Game||20.5 (T-26th in NFL)||20.0 (28)|
|Total Yards Per Game||471.0 (1)||249.0 (30)|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||139.5 (8)||74.0 (28)|
|Passing Yards Per Game||331.5 (2)||175.0 (30)|
|Points Allowed Per Game||19.5 (7)||17.0 (5)|
|Total Yards Allowed Per Game||267.5 (4)||320.5 (13)|
|Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game||105.0 (15)||102.5 (13)|
|Passing Yards Allowed Per Game||162.5 (4)||218.0 (T-10)|
|Turnover Ratio||-3 (T-26)||-1 (T-17)|
Players To Watch
QB Kevin Kolb
Kevin Kolb's brief days as the face of the Eagles seem a distant memory. Traded to Arizona after last season's lockout, Kolb has struggled in his time in the desert. After battling injuries for much of last season, he lost the starting job to John Skelton this summer. However, a Week 1 injury to Skelton thrust Kolb back in the starting role. And in the past two games he has responded, going 21-of-35 for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Last Sunday, Kolb helped his team knock off the Patriots in New England en route to a 2-0 record.
Kolb is not being asked to carry the offense on his back in Arizona. Instead, Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is putting his quarterback in a game-management role. So far, the plan has worked. But to this point Kolb has not faced an aggressive and talented defensive front like the one he will see against the Eagles. An injury kept him out of last season's Philadelphia homecoming, but this time he'll get a chance to take a shot at his former club.
SS Adrian Wilson
The elder statesman of the Cardinals, Adrian Wilson has been one of the franchise's most talented and consistent players. He has been named to four consecutive Pro Bowls (and five overall) and is also a three-time All-Pro selection. Wilson excels in coverage, but also has unique versatility. He is one of only ten players to have at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career, joining former Eagles Brian Dawkins, Seth Joyner and William Thomas. If Vick and the Eagles offense want to throw against the Cardinals, they will need to keep an eye on Wilson at all times.
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