Head coach Chip Kelly announced on Tuesday that Nick Foles would be the starting quarterback the rest of the way, even when Michael Vick is fully healthy. It is the right call as Foles is 5-1 as a starter and took home the NFC Player of the Month award the following day.
In three games in the month, Foles, 24, completed 70.8% of his passes, threw for 932 yards, 10 touchdowns, and no interceptions while putting up a passer rating of 152.8 - an NFL record for one month. His last time out against the Redskins, he completed 17 of 26 passes (65.4%) for 298 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions but did rush the ball a career-high nine times for a career-high 47 yards and a touchdown.
As for rushing, the Eagles have taken over as the league's top rushing team. With Nick Foles' new-found ability to rush the ball in addition to LeSean McCoy, the Eagles are mighty dangerous on the ground. McCoy is the NFL's leading rusher at 1,009 yards on the year. He was effective against the Redskins rushing 20 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Two people who have really benefited from Foles' inspired play in the month of November are DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper. Jackson leads the Eagles with 58 receptions and 985 receiving yards. He is looking for his first 1,000-yard receiving season since 2010. Jackson has posted 80+ receiving yards in all three November games.
November was a coming out party for Cooper who posted 102+ yards in two of the three games in the month. In the three games, he caught five touchdown passes which is even more impressive considering he only had two touchdowns entering the month. Cooper and Jackson are now tied for the team-lead with seven touchdowns.
The high-powered Eagles rushing attack will meet a strong foe in Arizona as the Cardinals are second in the NFL is rush defense allowing an average of just 81.3 yards per game. Defensive ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett have been royal terrors for opposing offenses. They have combined for 69 tackles, 10 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is likely going to be the man tasked with slowing down Jackson. The third-year cornerback has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons and if there is anybody who has the foot-speed to stay with Jackson, it is Peterson. On the year, he has 29 tackles, 10 passes defended and leads the team with three interceptions.
Carson Palmer's resurgence can be a major reason why the Cardinals currently have the 13th ranked passing offense. Palmer, 33, has completed 68.9% for 1,149 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions during the four-game winning streak. He has thrown two touchdowns per game over the course of the streak. On the year, Palmer is completing 63.3% of his passes for 2,887 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
The Cardinals are not terribly dangerous on the ground but their rushing attack has gotten much more efficient over recent weeks. Andre Ellington leads the team with 441 rushing yards on 73 attempts. He is the Arizona home run threat in the backfield. The Cardinals do provide balance for Ellington with veteran Rashard Mendenhall as the short-down back. Mendenhall has registered a touchdown in the last two games for Arizona.
Where the Cardinals are particularly frightening is on the outside as they feature two big, effective receivers in Larry Fitzgerald (6'3", 218 lbs.) and Michael Floyd (6'2", 220 lbs.). Fitzgerald has been a pillar for the Cardinals for the last decade and this year has certainly been consistent. He has 50 receptions for 606 yards and eight touchdowns. Last week he caught five passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald now has four touchdown receptions over the last four games. Floyd wasn't a slouch last week either with seven receptions for 104 yards.
The Eagles has been steadily improving under new defensive coordinator Billy Davis. Davis is employing a "bend-but-don't-break" philosophy with the defense as they are dead last in the NFL in passing yards allowed and 21st in rushing yards allowed, yet, they aren't allowing a ton of points. In fact, the Eagles defense has not allowed more than 21 points in a game since Week 4 when Peyton Manning scorched them for 52 points.
Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin has been one of the catalysts of the defensive turnaround. The 27-year-old has a knack for being around the ball as he is seventh on the team in total tackles with 31 but leads the team with four sacks. Perhaps most impressively is Barwin's ability to get in the way of passing attempts as he is second on the team in passes defended with 10. He will be the one who has to make Palmer uncomfortable in the pocket.
Fletcher, 27, has missed the last two games due to injury but before he got hurt he was one of the Eagles best defensive backs. Despite missing three games this season, he still leads the team in passes defended with 13 - three more than the next closest player. Fletcher and fellow cornerback Cary Williams will be tasked with slowing down Floyd and Fitzgerald. Not an easy task for a guy who hasn't seen game action in nearly a month.
Floyd, 24, is having a breakout year for the Cardinals in his second season in the NFL. He leads the team in receiving yards with 761 on 49 receptions - one fewer than Fitzgerald but with 155 more yards. Floyd seems to be Carson Palmer's big-play guy and is beginning to hit his stride. He is coming off back-to-back 100 yard receiving games, including his 193-yard performance against Jacksonville two weeks ago.
Kickoff on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia is slated for 1:00 pm. The game can be seen on Fox and you can hear Merrill Reese and Mike Quick call the game on the radio on 94.1 WIP.
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