Cards Win? That'd Be Surprising
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In a postseason full of the unexpected, the most shocking scenario would be Arizona beating Philadelphia in the NFC championship game.
The Cardinals simply drew an awful matchup in the Eagles. Philadelphia has three Pro Bowl-level cornerbacks in Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard. That means they'll need little if any help covering the Arizona's trio of 1,000-yard wide receivers.
Stick Samuel on Larry Fitzgerald, and Brown and Sheppard would share duties covering Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. And that's assuming Boldin plays, which is no certainty given the stubborn nature of hamstring injuries.
That means the Cardinals will have to run the ball well, and that formula doesn't suit their offensive personnel.
Yes, Arizona had some success running against Atlanta and Carolina in the first two rounds of the plays, but those defenses hardly measure up to that of Philadelphia. The Eagles ranked fourth in the league against the run during the regular season, yielding 92.2 yards per game.
It's not like the Cardinals have a game-breaking runner anyway. Veteran Edgerrin James is a far cry from his glory days with Indianapolis. Rookie Tim Hightower has tailed off considerably over the past month, and J.J. Arrington is a factor only on third downs.
Plus with three elite cornerbacks, the Eagles will be able to move hard-hitting safety Brian Dawkins closer to the line of scrimmage to help in run support and force Arizona to become one dimensional on offense.
The Eagles also were third in the NFL in sacks, which is bad news for the immobile Kurt Warner. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson no doubt will blitz frequently, and Warner figures to be on his back a lot. Not good for a 37-year-old quarterback and even worse for a team that thrives only when the passing game is in high gear.
January 16, 2009; 2:09 PM ET
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Posted by: Cowabunga1 | January 17, 2009 1:07 PM
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