The Arizona Cardinals host the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday in the desert at State Farm Stadium. The Eagles hope to extend their unbeaten streak to five games, while the Cardinals look to capture their first winning record of the season.
Can The Cardinals Defense Stop Jalen Hurts?
It’s been the Cardinals’ defense that is largely responsible for both of Arizona’s victories this season. The offensive players, Kyler Murray included, know how important defense has been in the wins versus Oakland and Carolina.
In response to their performance against the Panthers last week, Kyler Murray said, “Defense played a hell of a game.” He continued, “[They] had our backs all day. We finally kicked it in gear, come the second half, found our rhythm, which, I think, that’s part of the problem. There’s no rhythm at the beginning of the game. We’re sleepwalking out there; that’s what it feels like.”
Coach Kingsbury elaborated on the impact of the team’s defense. Kingsbury said, “I think it really kept us in it, kept our heads in the game, and allowed us to really settle in and play well the second half.”
Thanks in large part to Hurts’ threat as a rusher, Philadelphia is averaging 28.75 points per game. Jalen Hurts has a rushing touchdown in three of four games so far this season. The Cardinals’ defense, however, has only allowed three touchdowns on the ground through four games. In the Eagles’ 29-21, Week 4 win against the Jaguars, Hurts failed to throw a touchdown pass but rushed the ball 16 times for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Can They Kick It?
Both teams will likely be without their starting kickers this weekend. Cardinals coach, Kliff Kingsburg, has already ruled out kicker, Matt Prater, for the Week 5 matchup with a hip injury.
Arizona signed free agent Matt Ammendola to their practice squad earlier this week, with the expectation he will be elevated to the starting roster and play on Sunday.
Ammendola appeared in two games for the Kansas City Chiefs in relief of the injured Harrison Butker. In those two games, Ammendola went 3-4 on field goals and 3-4 on extra points. Amendola’s misses proved costly as the Chiefs fell to the Colts 20-17.
The former Chief’s substitute kicker missed an extra point in the first half and a short, 34-yard field goal on Kansas City’s final possession. Following his miss, Matt Ryan led the Colts down the field and threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 24 seconds remaining.
As for the Eagles, sources told Adam Schefter that kicker Jake Elliott will likely be ruled out on Sunday with an ankle injury. Former Texas Longhorn kicker Cameron Dicker is expected to make his NFL debut, replacing Elliott. The rookie Dicker made 76% of his field goal attempts in college.
Zach Ertz Faces Off Against Former Team
Zach Ertz will suit up against the team he spent the first 8.5 seasons of his career with, and also helped win Super Bowl LII in 2018. When asked about his time in Philadephia and whether or not it would be an emotional game against his former team, Ertz expressed appreciation for his time as an Eagle and also gratitude for the Cardinals to trade for him.
“I loved playing there,” Ertz said. “I think everyone knows that. But I was excited for the next challenge. When I kind of came to grips with that it wasn’t a real possibility, it was, ‘OK, let’s figure out what situations would be great for me,’ and Arizona was at the top of the list, and this was even before the start of last year.”
With DeAndre Hopkins still serving his 6-game suspension, the Cardinals will need Zach Ertz to continue to serve as one of Kyer Murray’s top receiving options, next to Marquise Brown. It should be an exciting, high-scoring affair, with both teams boasting dual-threat quarterbacks. And with both teams likely to start backup kickers, the game could very well come down to a missed extra point or field goal.
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