We’re five weeks into the regular season now and our Eagles bold predictions series sits at 7/15 so far. We’re aiming for 50% on the season and having predicted the first touchdowns for both Clement and Smallwood, as well as the first interception for Rasul Douglas, we’re set for what could be our most accurate year yet. That brings us to Sunday.
The struggling Arizona Cardinals travel to Philadelphia to face an Eagles team prepared to vindicate their claim to the NFC Crown. Here are five bold predictions for the matchup.
Containing an all-time great:
The threat of Larry Fitzgerald needs no introduction. The future Hall Of Famer has registered a reception in 200 consecutive games has scored 11 touchdowns and recorded 845 yards in his eight games against the Eagles. The only man stopping him from adding to that total will be standout slot cornerback, Patrick Robinson.
Robinson himself has been having a strong year. Graded as PFF’s fourth best cornerback, the veteran has been able to do more than just survive, carving a name for himself in the nickel against some rapid receivers. His toughest challenge yet will come in the way of keeping Larry Fitzgerald under wraps…but it’s something he may just be able to do.
Robinson has been around this league long enough to know all the tricks of the trade. A former first round pick of the New Orleans Saints, his career has taken him all over the NFL and has lined him up against many great wideouts in the process. Fitzgerald doesn’t have the dominant advantage he would over a more inexperienced corner…and that’s why this bold prediction carries weight.
I’m predicting Patrick Robinson to simply win the day. Keeping Fitzgerald out of the end zone and limiting his receiving yards to 50 or less.
Time to shine:
The Eagles are down to bare bones at running back. LeGarette Blount will lead the charge against a Chargers Defense that has been able to snuff out the run relatively well. If Wendell Smallwood is indeed sidelined on Sunday, responsibility will fall to none other than Corey Clement to answer the call.
Clement has stepped up to the plate and impressed whenever he’s been thrown into live-game situations this year. His first rushing touchdown was followed by an impressive few runs on that game-ending drive against the Chargers one week later…but his progress may spike once again this week.
If Blount struggles to get rolling or the Eagles simply fall on Clement as a change of pace back, I predict the UDFA to rush for 50 yards and his second touchdown of the year.
Alshon Jeffery has had a relatively quiet season so far. Some crucial catches has been made, but it’s been Zach Ertz stealing the spotlight once again. There’s no doubt that the presence of the former Chicago Bear alone has helped change the Offense, but the Birds’ will need some more out of their number one wideout against Patrick Peterson on Sunday…a cornerback who is arguably having his best season so far.
Big games against big name cornerbacks call for big time plays. We know Alshon has it in him, and with the roaring Linc behind him, I think this may be the game he finally get sone over on an elite cornerback, showing once again just how lethal he can be.
My third prediction is for Alshon Jeffery to receive for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
A feast for the Birds:
The Cardinals have allowed opposing defenses to sack Carson Palmer seventeen times already this season, tying the Texans for the most in the league. They’re facing a Defense that is built on aggression and speed…but also one missing its most prolific pass rusher. The Giants were able to escape the clutches of the Eagles front four two weeks ago, but the Cardinals won’t be so lucky.
The home crowd should be enough to fuel the pressure coming off the edge, and Timmy Jernigan’s presence should provide the Eagles with enough firepower to marginalize the Offense. It all comes down to collapsing the pocket, and if both Chris Long and Derek Barnett continue to improve as the weeks go by, it’s only going to take the weight off of a struggling Vinny Curry and an interior committee.
My penultimate prediction is of the Eagles to take full advantage of the beaten up offensive front and bring down the Cardinals’ veteran quarterback a total of five times.
Watkins makes a statement:
The last time that Jaylen Watkins played Arizona, he was criminally underrated. After playing just three snaps all season, Watkins was thrust into the firing line against Carson Palmer and a group of very established receivers. Not only did he hold his own, but he was able to keep the links of Larry Fitzgerald relatively silent considering the path the game took.
Two season’s later and a move to Safety, Watkins is coming back from an injury to a secondary that could lean on his versatility. There’s no doubting that Jaylen Watkins has the talent to line up at cornerback or Safety, but whether or not he plays with a chip on his shoulder should he be listed as active is another story.
My final prediction is for Watkins to return with a bang, amassing five tackles and his first interception of the season against a team that two years ago sparked his career into life.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports