Arizona at Philadelphia, Week 13
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. (NFL Network)
The Eagles will celebrate Thanksgiving at home, but given the mood of their fans, that might not be a good thing. A 36-7 loss at Baltimore this past Sunday dropped the Eagles to the edge of postseason possibility and further exposed growing turmoil.
QB Donovan McNabb, who was benched for the first time in his career at halftime against the Ravens, will start again, two days after his 32nd birthday. The five-time Pro Bowler and face of the franchise has committed seven turnovers in his last six quarters of play, plus the public gaffe of admitting he wasn't aware of the possibility of a tie game.
Yet Coach Andy Reid could be under just as much heat as McNabb. Many observers questioned the move to bench McNabb for Kevin Kolb -- who had attempted only nine passes in his career -- against a savage and experienced defense, on the road, in a game the Eagles desperately needed to win and trailed by only three points at the time. And regardless of who is quarterback, Reid has been ripped for his play-calling. The main point of contention seems to be the team's lack of balance. The Eagles rank second in pass attempts per game (39.3) and 28th in rushing attempts (23.6). The last four times the Eagles have faced third and one, they have passed, and failed to convert each time. They passed on a second and goal inside the 1-yard line against Baltimore, and Kolb's throw was intercepted and returned 108 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed.
The Cardinals are in far better straits, of course, with their first division title since 1975 not much more than a foregone conclusion. Still, they have their issues in this matchup. Teams that have flown cross-country to play in the Eastern time zone are 0-14 this year. The Cardinals have lost nine straight on the East Coast, and they have a short week of preparation to boot.
While Kurt Warner passed 300 yards for the fifth straight game in a 37-29 loss to the Giants, but he took several hits. With the Eagles rank fifth in passing defense and first in sacks but allowing 126 rushing yards over the last seven games, Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt might choose to hand off more. Trouble is, Arizona is as weighted toward throwing the ball as Philadelphia, with more pass attempts (39.8 per game) than any other team and fewer rushing attempts (24.3 per game) than 24. Since breaking out for 1o9 yards on 22 carries in his first start, rookie RB Tim Hightower has 35 carries for just 78 yards over three games.
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