The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the biggest surprises of this young NFL season. Sparked by a strong defense, the Cardinals enter their Week Three matchup against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles a perfect 2-0 both straight-up and against the spread. Bettors have yet to jump on the Cardinals’ bandwagon, however, as the NFL odds list the Eagles as 3.5-point road favorites against Arizona.
The Cardinals pulled off the biggest upset of the year last week when traveling to New England and pulling off the straight-up victory against the New England Patriots as 13-point underdogs. The Cardinals’ young and talented defense, which ranks 13th in the NFL, has been able to mask the deficiencies of its struggling offense thus far by being particularly strong against the run. Despite facing good running teams like the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals ‘D’ held those two teams to just 3.4 yards a carry with no rushing touchdowns. Overall, the Cardinals defense has allowed just two touchdowns this season.
Notable performers for the Cardinals defensive unit include cornerback Patrick Peterson, who has allowed just one completion while being targeted 11 times; linebacker Daryl Washington, who leads the NFL with 21 solo tackles; and Calais Campbell, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting 10 tackles and pair of sacks against New England.
On the offensive side of the ball, things haven’t been quite as smooth for Arizona. Quarterback Kevin Kolb, the former Eagle, will again get the start this week after being at the controls in the Cardinals’ stunner against New England. Kolb has been the proverbial “game-manager” so far this season. He has taken precious few shots down the field, but has also not thrown an interception which figures to keep him in the good graces of head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Most of the money this week has landed on the Eagles as the line has moved from Eagles -3 to -3.5 this week. Philadelphia certainly has superior talent on paper and their atrocious turnover rate through the first two games figures to slow at some point. However, the Cardinals get the home crowd on their side and Kolb figures to have a little added incentive against his former team. Add the fact the line has moved off a key number and that equals tepid support for the Cardinals.