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Friday Five: Eagles At Cardinals


A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Eagles game Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.:

Shading toward McCoy

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy hasn't played nearly as well has he did a season ago. There are multiple reasons for that. Teams have learned to deal with the Philly offense better. The Eagles' offensive line has been wrecked by injuries. Quarterback Nick Foles isn't as efficient. But McCoy remains arguably the most dangerous running back in the NFL, and now he sees the NFL's top-ranked run defense. Something has to give. The Cardinals are hoping it isn't them.

This time, don't count on the rally

The game in Philadelphia was close a season ago. The Eagles won 24-21, and the Cardinals had the ball late in the game with at least a chance to tie. The problem was that the Cardinals fell behind, 24-7, a hole that proved too deep to escape. Playing at home can help such a predicament, but the Cards cannot fall way behind. It's easy to do given the speed at which Philly can score, and the Eagles do have a way of letting teams get back into games when they have control. The Cardinals don't want to go down that road, though.

Make it special, or else

The Cardinals have been playing better on special teams. Chandler Catanzaro has been a find as a kicker for both field goals (15 for 15) and kickoffs. The coverage teams have been solid of late. Bruce Arians said he's happy with the job Ted Ginn has done as a return man. New punter Drew Butler has settled in. But the Eagles have been excellent on special teams, and that's a part of the game that could change the outcome. If Darren Sproles is hurting still and unable to play, that puts a dent in Philly's return game. But they can rush the punter, and change the game.

Images from past games between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Eagles

Andre the giant

It could have been a watershed kind of game for running back Andre Ellington in Oakland. A career-high 30 touches – 24 carries and six catches. A total of 160 yards rushing and receiving. He was truly the backbone of the offense. Not that it is simple against the Eagles, who have a good defense. But one key part of last year's loss in Philly for the Cards – Ellington did not play. It was the one game Ellington missed, after hurting his knee during Thanksgiving practice. He's a component this offense needs. And with he and QB Carson Palmer only getting healthier, perhaps this is a week the unit can really start scoring like the Cardinals would like.

Turnovers can turn this thing

The Cardinals are winning because they aren't turning the ball over, forging a plus-7 in the turnover ratio thus far. The Eagles are winning in spite of being a minus-5. Philadelphia is playing a dangerous game, one that usually doesn't play out the right way on the scoreboard. If the Cardinals are smart, and can make sure they don't have giveaways, the Eagles figure to turn it over once or twice – and that could be enough playing at home. 

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