JEFF MCLANE Record, 3-5
My prediction skills are as bad as the Eagles, hence the identical records. Nonetheless, I think I got a winner this week. A loss here for the Eagles would all but end their playoff hopes and unofficially put the potential end of Andy Reid on watch again. A 3-6 mark with seven to go would mean the Eagles would likely have to win all their remaining games to reach the postseason. So this is a must, must – and one more time for emphasis – must win. So the Eagles have that going for them. And then there is Arizona, a team that is 2-6 and has for the most part looked a 2-6 team.
It doesn’t appear as if Kevin Kolb’s return to Lincoln Financial Field will happen. I’m not sure his presence at quarterback would have mattered. He hasn’t played very well. John Skelton will be under center instead. He’s got a cannon for an arm, but at 6-foot-6 isn’t very mobile. He’s also got a below-average line guarding him and I’m under the impression that Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn took a roto-rooter to his players this week in practice after they failed to record a sack against the Bears. The Cardinals best option on offense is for running back Beanie Wells to break out of a one-game funk. He’s got a balky knee, but I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to face off against the Eagles’ soft run D.
On the other side of the ball, Arizona’s 3-4 defense isn’t very imposing. The Eagles offense seems to have an easier time against an odd-man front. Michael Vick will be looking to shake off last week’s performance, as are wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, so expect to see a few more shots downfield even if the Cardinals are playing two deep. If the Eagles can limit the mistakes – and that’s a big if – they should crush Arizona. Even if they don’t, they have more than enough to get the job done. EAGLES, 34-17.
What goes right: Trent Cole rebounds after last week’s no-sack night and tortures Cards left tackle Levi Brown.
What goes wrong: Rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett, filling in for the injured Nate Allen at safety, gets taken to school deep by Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
I’m making this pick like a kid at a horror movie: with my hands over my eyes, peeking out between my fingers. Because A)my picks have stunk and B)I’m thinking the Eagles will win, which has been a dangerous way of thinking this year.
But the one thing the Birds have done right this season has been taking care of the softies on their schedule, blowing out the Rams and handling the Redskins. That means that either they are good enough to avoid falling into the league’s bottom tier, or they have just been waiting to tick the last box on the checklist of underachievement. Then I look at the Cardinals, and well, they don’t throw or run very well, and aren’t so hot defending the run or stopping the pass. And they’ll likely be playing backup quarterback Skelton as they fly cross country for a 1 p.m. game against a team that should be desperate to keep its season alive.
Concerns? Well, there’s always Fitzgerald. The Eagles cornerbacks better be on point because neither Kurt Coleman nor Jarrett are in the lineup for their coverage skills. But in the end, I think the Eagles talent wins out. This week at least. EAGLES, 24-20.
What goes right: Vick has a big day against the league’s 29th ranked passing defense.
What goes wrong: Big Beanie Wells (6-2, 229) leaves tire marks on more than a few defenders.