Battle of the birds: will the Cardinals take down the undefeated Eagles?

By Justin Mark, SGPN Football Handicapper

Last week’s game started scary, being down 14-0 immediately in the first quarter. However, the Eagles battled back and prevailed, their defense stepping up to limit Jacksonville while the offense showed they are the high-powered juggernaut we’re used to seeing. Our picks were on point, going 3-1 as the Eagles covered the spread, the total went over, and the Eagles won outright. The only thing that didn’t hit was Devonta Smith’s receiving total as it was a run-focused day.

This week, the Eagles make the long trip to Arizona to face Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the league and the Cardinals have started off rough, splitting their games 2-2. The interesting thing is that the Cardinals against the spread record is also 2-2, however both times they covered it was on the road. They have been unable to cover at home.

Key Defensive Matchup

The Cardinals may go into the game without their top receiver, Marquise Brown. He is currently questionable, and they have not determined if he will play or not. They still have other receiving options, but Brown is the best on the team at stretching the field. Being a USFL fan, I must wonder if they’ll promote USFL star Victor Bolden from their practice squad and throw him in for some plays. Bolden made some big plays against the Philadelphia Stars in the championship game last year for the Birmingham Stallions. They will likely also rely heavily on former Eagle Zach Ertz to make plays in the passing game. The Cardinals are also pretty good at running the ball behind James Conner. However, I think this defense is better than everybody expected. The key to stopping the Cardinals’ offense is limiting the athletic Murray.  He has scrambled to extend plays in three of four games as well as ran for two touchdowns on the year. His numbers don’t compare to Jalen Hurts, but keeping him from scrambling for a first on third down conversions will be key for this defense.

Key Offensive Matchup

The Cardinals’ defense has allowed the fifth least rushing yards per game, at 87. Their true test will come this weekend as they face the strong rushing attack of the Eagles. Last week Miles Sanders had a day, running the ball 27 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. Jalen Hurts and Kenneth Gainwell also ran for touchdowns. Among the fantasy football crowd, Sanders is being looked at as one of the biggest bargains in drafts as he often went in later rounds but is doing well as a top running back with a league-wide fantasy ranking of ninth. I expect the Cardinals to work on stopping the run to try and make the Eagles one-dimensional. The problem with that is, the Eagles are far too talented. The wide receivers should feast on this porous defense that is allowing 255.8 passing yards per game (22nd in the league).

The Pick

Even though the long travel can always be difficult on a team, this Eagles team is rolling. I graded this game with the Eagles as a touchdown favorite. Anything under seven points seems like they will have an easy cover. The Eagles and Cardinals have both been able to put up points as well, with the Eagles averaging 28.8 points per game and the Cardinals averaging 22 points per game.

Looking at lines on WynnBet This week I’m once again taking the Eagles to cover the spread of -5.5 and I like the total over 49 points.

Bonus Prop Bets

One thing all bettors know is that props are difficult to hit consistently. We’ve certainly felt that. Last week Devonta Smith cooled way down after having multiple impressive performances. I mentioned the Cardinals have a good run defense, but the Eagles’ ground game is too good to be slowed. I think they’ll get an early lead and be able to run the ball effectively to drain the clock. I’ll take Miles Sanders over 64.5 yards this week.

Much like last week, I think both offenses are good enough to put up points. Therefore, I’ll also take the 1st half to go over 25 points. You can find all my picks and the rest of the SGPN crew’s picks here.

Justin Mark is co-host of SGPN Fantasy Football’s show “Old-Fashioned Football” and a writer for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JMarkFootball and The Sports Gambling Podcast @GamblingPodcast.