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Friday Five: Cardinals At Eagles


A glance at the top storylines for the Cardinals-Eagles game Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia:

**A night to remember

This is what the Cardinals do these days – primetime games. Meh. This will be the Cards' fourth primetime appearance in six weeks, and by now, it's like brushing their teeth or having cereal for breakfast. It is, however, a big stage for the Cards to clinch the NFC West (assuming the Seahawks handle the Browns in Seattle, and well, how could they not.) The Eagles are playing for something too, now that they are in the thick of the (poor) NFC East race. There is a reason this game was flexed to "Sunday Night Football." It's worth it.  

Adjust to the tempo

The Cardinals get their yearly matchup against Chip Kelly and his high-speed offense, but by now, there are no surprises what might be coming. Two years ago, the Eagles won in Philly, 24-21. Last year, the Cardinals held on for a 24-20 win. Both teams move the ball against the other, but the scoreboard isn't exactly going crazy. If the Cardinals can find that 30-point rhythm they've had most of the season, that would help, but defensively, the Cards know the Eagles are going to be moving. They should plan accordingly.

Turnovers can flip the balance

The Cardinals have, for the first time, gone three straight games without turning the ball over. Meanwhile, the Eagles have forced 25 turnovers – which just happen to be tied with the Cardinals (and Giants) for second-most in the league. Turnovers almost always make a difference in a win or a loss. Taking care of the football, with the way these defenses have played, may be that much more important.  

Let Fitz do his thing

Larry Fitzgerald has had a great season. Better than expected. It's been a few games since he's had one of his big yardage games – his last three games have totaled 162 yards, and he's averaged only seven yards a catch – so here are the Eagles to help. Fitzgerald (who doesn't have a TD since Nov. 1) has never failed to score against Philly. He's never failed to have at least five catches, and he's averaged 114.6 yards against them in seven career games, including his 7-160-1 line last year. Michael Floyd and John Brown are playing really well, but Fitz is a guy who has historically hurt the Eagles.

When it's short, get it done

Too many times in the past three games the Cardinals have had problems keeping drives alive or scoring touchdowns instead of field goals because of failures in short-yardage. This is an area where the Cardinals have to find a way to improve; points will be at a premium once the postseason rolls around. Maybe that means sticking with David Johnson only when running the ball. Maybe it means running behind only certain linemen. Maybe it means throwing in those obvious run downs (which the Cardinals have already done sometimes.) In 13 times the Cardinals needed one or two yards to convert a third down, fourth down or score in the past three games, the Cards have converted on only four.  

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