After clinching a playoff berth last week, the Arizona Cardinals can put the finishing touches on securing the NFC West title and potentially a first-round bye on Sunday night when they visit the Philadelphia Eagles. A seven-game winning streak has fueled the ascent of Arizona, which can claim its first division title in six years with either a win on Sunday or if second-place Seattle stumbles versus Cleveland.
“Somebody texted me, ‘Hey, you punched your ticket,'” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters. “I said, ‘Yeah, we’re trying to upgrade to first class.'” Carson Palmer resides in the cockpit of the NFL’s top-ranked offense as the MVP candidate tossed a pair of scoring strikes to increase his season total to a franchise-best 31 in a 23-20 victory over Minnesota last week. Philadelphia has won two in a row to place itself in a three-way tie atop the less-than-impressive NFC East. “To start the year the way we did and kind of dig ourselves in a hole, it was unlikely that we would be in this position this late in the year,” quarterback Sam Bradford said.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: The Cardinals have held steady at their opening number of -3.5, with only the juice being adjusted. The total has been bet up slightly from 50.5 to 51.
Cardinals – WR B. Golden (probable Sunday, concussion), LB S. Weatherspoon (probable Sunday, illness), WR L. Fitzgerald (probable Sunday, ankle), RB A. Ellington (questionable Sunday, toe), C L. Sendlein (questionable Sunday, knee), S R. Johnson (questionable Sunday, ankle), CB P. Peterson (questionable Sunday, ankle), DE F. Rucker (questionable Sunday, ankle), CB J. Powers (questionable Sunday, calf), TE J. Gresham (questionable Sunday, knee), DE C. Redding (doubtul Sunday, ankle).
Eagles – T A. Barbre (probable Sunday, calf), QB S. Bradford (probable Sunday, shoulder), DE V. Curry (probable Sunday, illness), T L. Johnson (probable Sunday, illness), DT B. Logan (probable Sunday, knee), DB E. Rowe (probable Sunday, ankle), LB M. Smith (probable Sunday, hamstring)m DE C, Thornton (probable Sunday, ankle), T M. Tobin (probable Sunday, knee), WR J. Matthews (probable Sunday, back), CB B. Maxwell (probable Sunday, ankle).
WEATHER REPORT: It will be a chilly, but clear night for football in Philadelphia, with temperatures hovering around freezing at kickoff. There will also be a very slight 3-5 mile per hour wind blowing towards the northern end zone.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Cardinals (-5.5) – Eagles (0) + home field (-3) = Eagles +2.5
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Arizona head coach Bruce Arians gave his team four full days off following their Thursday Night win over the Vikings, hoping they?ll be fresher (and healthier) down the stretch. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, after beating the Bills, the Eagles are now 6-2 SU in games that Sam Bradford starts and finishes. Still, Philly got outgained by more than a yard per play in that win over Buffalo.” – Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (11-2, 7-6 ATS, 8-5 O/U): John Brown, who is just 105 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season, came up large both last week and in the previous meeting with Philadelphia. The 25-year-old reeled in a 65-yard touchdown pass versus the Vikings and also corralled a 75-yard score in the waning moments of a 24-20 victory over the Eagles last season. Michael Floyd, who has recorded four 100-yard performances in his last five contests, and Larry Fitzgerald could also be in for a big day against an Eagles defense that has yielded 21 touchdowns to wideouts this season.
ABOUT THE EAGLES (6-7, 6-7, 6-5 O/U): Last season’s rushing champion, DeMarco Murray, has played in just 39 snaps over the last two weeks, with 25 coming in Philadelphia’s 23-20 victory over Buffalo. “I’ve never been concerned with making any individual happy,” coach Chip Kelly said Thursday. “Our focus and goal is always on trying to win the football game. So anywhere I’ve ever been, I’ve never heard any coach ever discuss anything like that.” Murray’s team-leading 603 yards are a far cry from last season’s total (1,845) with Dallas, and the 27-year-old once again finds himself as part of a committee with Ryan Mathews and veteran Darren Sproles.
* Cardinals are 12-1 ATS in their last 13 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
* Eagles are 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Under is 5-1 in Cardinals last 6 games in December.
* Under is 7-0 in Eagles last 7 games following a straight up win.
COVERS CONSENSUS: A solid majority of bettors are backing the Cardinals on Monday night, with 68 percent of wagers on Arizona. The over is also the popular play here with 57 percent of wagers on it.