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Friday Five: Cardinals At Eagles


A glance at five top storylines for Sunday's Cardinals-Eagles game in Philadelphia:

  1. Shady's (way) back

For all the talk about the Eagles and their up-tempo offense, they start with their running game – best in the league – and the NFL's top rusher, LeSean "Shady" McCoy. McCoy is the lone runner to eclipse 1,000 yards thus far this season, and coach Chip Kelly's spread offense has cleared a lot of room for McCoy to do damage. The Cardinals have to stop him from getting loose – and trapping him in the backfield a few times wouldn't hurt.

  1. Turnovers matter

Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles has 16 touchdown passes this season but hasn't turned the ball over yet. Not once. Not an interception, not a lost fumble. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer's resurgence has come in part because he has managed to turn off the turnover spigot. Who can keep up that kind of ball protection – and who can't – will go a long way in determining who wins Sunday.

  1. Whither Ellington?

Cardinals running back Andre Ellington suddenly showed up on the injury report on Thanksgiving with a knee injury. Not good. The Cards did get a boost last weekend with the improvement of Rashard Mendenhall, but make no mistake, Ellington's speed and shifty play is a crucial component of the Cardinals' offense. They need his skill.

  1. Communication is key

The Eagles are going to try and run an offensive play every 15 seconds or so. That means more than just conditioning as a defense. The Cardinals aren't afraid of getting tired. What they are concerned about is communication among the madness. Everyone has to be on the same page when the offense is coming fast and furious.

  1. Start smart

The Eagles' win streak has been boosted by early leads, no doubt helped by their explosive offense. Not only are the Cardinals facing that hurdle, they are still playing an early 11 a.m. Arizona kickoff. The weather looks like it will cooperate – the high 40s and sunny is the forecast – but the Cards have to be prepared from jump so they don't have to fight uphill.

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