Week 13 Preview: Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1)
By Scott Allen
The Arizona Cardinals travel back east once again to try and tame the road I wish was less traveled by these redbirds. Someone in the league front office must have had a sense of humor when they invited the Cardinals to play on the road, on national television, on Thanksgiving. The joke though, may be on Philadelphia and not Arizona. Philadelphia has been a mess over the past two weeks and slide almost completely out of the wildcard picture in the NFC.
Two weeks ago, Philadelphia went to Cincinnati and manged to finish in the leagues first tie in six years, 13-13. Quarterback Donovan Mcnabb didn’t even know the game could end in a tie. Apparently he thought they just keep playing. Well, this isn’t college football, although the Eagles would probably have a hard time beating USC, Alabama, or Oklahoma right now.
Then this past Sunday, Mcnabb was benched in favor of backup Kevin Kolb. Neither performed well and were crushed 36-7 to the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. On Monday, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid proclaimed Mcnabb the starter for Thursday night, putting quickly to rest any controversy.
I walk around talking to my buddies this week and many of them have the exact opposite feeling that I have. They all think Mcnabb’s benching will wake him up and he will light up the scoreboard and throw for 400 yards. Well, he might still do all that, but with Arizona’s offense in full gear, that might only find themselves in a shootout and that’s it. Here’s how I think it will go. Mcnabb almost certainly can’t play any worse than he did in the first half Sunday prior to his benching, so I will admit, he will play better. Question is, can he outplay Kurt Warner and the rest of the offense and can he stave off a fearsome front four for the Cards? My guess is no and Arizona will win a close one because let’s face it – Arizona can’t blow anyone out on the road. Well they might in the beginning, however, they always find ways to let teams back in.
Arizona, after losing to the Giants 37-29 this past Sunday, probably feel encouraged by their effort and if not for a couple of very correctable mistakes, that game would have had a different outcome. They will be seeking once again to wrap up the NFC West, something that was half accomplished by Seattle and San Francisco losses last Sunday. Seattle might eliminate itself before the Cards even take the field Thursday night, as they face the Cowboys on Thursday afternoon in Dallas.
Both teams are nursing some injuries. For Philly, running back Correll Buckhalter and corner Asante Samuel are both ruled as doubtful. Guard Shawn Andrews has been ruled out. Back Brian Westbrook is questionable. For Arizona, they have five players listed as questionable, including Clark Haggans, Travis Laboy, Rod Hood, Adrian Wilson, and Mike Gandy. Matt Ware is out.
Hard to say with any degree of certainty what will become of tomorrow night’s game. I do know the Cardinals will try and do whatever it takes to win a game back east and wrap up this division. This is the second to last road game of the season and they need to prove to the national experts they can beat a team like Philadelphia, on the road, in the national spotlight. Cards do just that and win 34-28.