It’s a Trap!: Eagles @ Cardinals 9.24.2012
Make no mistake, this is a trap game.
You know, the one that comes every year? Think about it. One week removed from a game against an incredibly tough AFC Super Bowl contender, and one week before the Eagles first intra-division matchup against the Giants on Sunday Night Football, the Eagles face an underrated and underappreciated non-division opponent with what might barely qualify as a college offense.
This is the kind of game that seems to fly under the radar for Andy Reid’s Eagles, and they have been vulnerable to getting burned by their oversight in the past: Think Chicago 2010, Raiders 2009, Bengals 2008 (the infamous tie), etc.
So, now that I’ve done my best to convince you they’ll lose, here are a couple matchups to pay attention to that will likely have the biggest impact on the outcome:
1. Dallas Reynolds v. Dan Williams – This one is almost too easy to pick out. Williams was the Cardinals 1st round pick in 2010. He is just coming into his own having locked up a starting job for the first time this season. Dallas Reynolds is a 28-year old undrafted rookie, who has spent the last three seasons on the Eagles practice squad. Reid insists he has gotten much stronger, which had been the primary knock on his play. The two match up well enough in size (Reynolds 6’4” 315, Williams 6’2” 327) and Reynolds played well in spot duty against the Ravens last week. On the other hand, Williams played a big role in stuffing New England up the middle and stifling their offense. This is a tough matchup to call, but you should never ignore the impact of a good inside rush.
2. Adrian Wilson v. Crossing Routes – Marty Morninwheg loves crossing routes. So does Cardinals SS Adrian Wilson. He flies a bit under the radar in Arizona, but his five Pro Bowls are no mistake. He is one of those rare players that can both lay the wood and cover. If I were to write a 2A, it would be Wilson v. Howard Mudd. Wilson is an extremely effective blitzer, and one of only 11 players in league history (3 active) to record 20+ interceptions and 20+ sacks in his career. Watch out for #24.
3. Darnell Dockett v. Danny Watkins and Calais Campbell v. Evan Mathis – Ok, I’ll admit this one is a bit of a copout, because I’ve now named the Cardinals three down linemen v. the Eagles three interior linemen. But if there were ever a game that was destined to be decided in the trenches, it’s this one. Dockett is just an incredible player. The 6’4” 290 lb veteran has made three Pro-Bowls and probably should have gone to more. Watkins will have his hands full. Here’s to hoping he can put out the fire. On the other side, Campbell really came into his own last season, posting 8 sacks, 2 FF, and even a pick. He is 6’8” (!), which works to both his advantage and his detriment. His long arms help him fend off blocks, and I’d bet my life that he’ll swat a ball or two at the line today, but if Mathis can get under him and use his leverage effectively it might be possible to neutralize Campbell.
4. Sam Acho v. Demetress Bell – Are you starting to see a pattern here? The Birds’ offensive line is patchwork at best right now, and LT Demetress Bell’s play in the preseason should give the Eagles cause for concern. The Cardinals’ best pass rusher is 2nd year player Sam Acho. If you haven’t heard of Acho, it’s ok. Nobody has. But the 2011 4th-round pick has racked up 8 sacks and 4 FF in only 18 NFL games (12 starts). He is as dangerous a pass rusher as anybody in the NFC West right now. Don’t be surprised Celek or Harbor stay home to help out Bell all day today.
5. Patrick Peterson v. Bobby April – Special teams could play a huge role in what I expect to be a low-scoring affair this afternoon. Patrick Peterson ran FOUR punts back for touchdowns last year, and in his second NFL season he hasn’t gotten any slower. Eagles Special Teams coach Bobby April can’t afford to have his players miss an assignment in kick coverage today, or they’ll be seeing first-hand why Peterson was a top-5 draft pick. On the other hand, this past offseason Peterson expressed his devotion to the cornerback position and his focus on becoming a shut-down outside defender and the Cardinals certainly didn’t draft him just to return kicks. But if you see #21 lining up deep to receive a punt, you had better hope Eagles P Chas Henry doesn’t pull a Matt Dodge.