Cardinals-Eagles Preview

Prior to the start of the season, many figured the Philadelphia

Eagles would be solidifying their playoff position with their Week

10 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in Kevin Kolb’s return to

Lincoln Financial Field.

Neither of those possible storylines are looking too realistic

anymore.

After being dealt a major blow to their playoff hopes last week,

the Eagles try to bounce back Sunday against the Cardinals, who

might be without Kolb for a second straight game.

Considered one of the preseason favorites to reach the Super

Bowl, Philadelphia (3-5) likely needs to go on an epic run to

simply make the playoffs. The Eagles are three games back of NFC

East-leading New York and not in good position to snag a wild-card

berth, having already lost to Atlanta and Chicago.

“We put ourselves in this situation and in this hole,” running

back LeSean McCoy said after Monday night’s 30-24 home loss to the

Bears. “Each game is critical to us and we just need to approach

them like that.”

The Eagles seemed to be in good shape to pick up a third

straight win Monday, leading 24-17 in the third quarter, but they

allowed Chicago to score the game’s final 13 points. It was the

fourth time Philadelphia blew a fourth-quarter lead.

“You can’t let opportunities like this slip away,” said Michael

Vick, who is tied for 30th in the NFL with one fourth-quarter

touchdown pass.

The Eagles are 3-5 for the sixth time since the NFL went to a

16-game schedule in 1978. In each of the previous five occasions,

Philadelphia missed the playoffs.

“It’s not early anymore, it’s getting late,” tight end Brent

Celek said. “We’re halfway through the season and we have a

terrible record. In all reality, we have to go on a streak. It’s

that simple.”

The Eagles would seem to have a decent chance to get a win

against the Cardinals (2-6), considering they’re 3-0 against teams

that are .500 or worse. Philadelphia has done an excellent job of

protecting the ball in those victories, turning it over three total

times compared to averaging 3.2 turnovers in five losses to clubs

with winning records.

Arizona is coming off last Sunday’s 19-13 overtime victory over

one-win St. Louis, snapping a six-game losing streak. Calais

Campbell blocked a potential game-winning field goal as time

expired in the fourth quarter, and Patrick Peterson returned a punt

99 yards for a TD in overtime.

It was the Cardinals’ first win since beating Carolina in the

season opener.

“It has been a tough stretch – six games, difficult, especially

the way we lost them,” said coach Ken Whisenhunt, whose team has

lost four games by four points or fewer. “Emotionally for your

team, it gives you a lot to build off going forward.”

The Cardinals got the win with Kolb on the sidelines recovering

from a turf toe injury in his right foot. Kolb, who spent four

seasons with the Eagles and was their starting quarterback last

year before a concussion opened the door for Vick, was traded to

Arizona in July for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

and a 2012 second-round draft pick.

Kolb didn’t practice Thursday, and despite saying there’s been

“dramatic improvement” in his injury, he’s unlikely to start –

though he could dress.

He insisted earlier in the week he wants to face his former team

“at all cost.”

“Anybody can say that they don’t circle it on your calendar, but

you do,” Kolb said. “I have a lot of friends and there are a lot of

good people back there. I’m looking forward to going back, but I

definitely want to be in uniform and have a chance to play.”

If Kolb is unable to play, John Skelton will likely make his

second start. Skelton completed 20 of 35 passes for 222 yards with

a touchdown against the Rams but also had a pair of safeties.

The Cardinals were unable to establish much of a ground game

last week, managing a season-low 70 yards. Beanie Wells was limited

to 20 yards on 10 carries and will be facing a Philadelphia defense

that gave up a season high-tying 164 rushing yards to Chicago.

The Eagles could also get the ground game going this week behind

McCoy, the NFL leader with 825 rushing yards. In four road games,

the Cardinals are allowing an average of 143.3 rushing yards, tied

for sixth-worst in the NFL.

These teams haven’t met since the NFC championship game

following the 2008 season. The Cardinals blew all of an 18-point

third-quarter lead before rallying for a 32-25 win.

The Eagles have won five of seven regular-season meetings since

2000.