NFC Championship Preview
Philadelphia Eagles (11-6-1) at Arizona Cardinals (11-7)
Sunday, January 18th, 3:00PM Eastern
Bookmaker.com betting line – Philadelphia -3.5, 47 O/U
The NFC Championship will host two unlikely opponents when the number 6 seeded Philadelphia Eagles travel to Phoenix to take on the number 5 seeded Arizona Cardinals. The game marks the first home playoff game for the Cardinals since 1947 and will give them the opportunity to earn their first ever Super Bowl trip. The game marks a re-match from week 13 when the Eagles trampled the Cardinals 48-20. In that game, running back Michael Westbrook ran wild against Arizona tying a team record 4 touchdowns. Westbrook and the Eagles will look for a repeat performance, but the Arizona Cardinals are playing much better at this point in the season.
Arizona is led by veteran QB Kurt Warner. Warner averaged the 2nd most yardage through the air this season with 292 yards per game of passing. Leading the receiving core that will get a lot of balls thrown their way is star playmakers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Boldin missed last week with a pulled hamstring and indicates he will play this Sunday in the NFC Title Game. Fitzgerald has a big game against the Panthers catching 8 balls for 166 yards and a score. These two receivers will be a crucial part of the Arizona offense as they attempt to break down the Eagles secondary. Boldin and Fitzgerald have combined for 23 touchdowns this season and they will be looking to add a few more this weekend.
Philadelphia has come out of nowhere to not only make the playoffs, but to be playing in the NFC Championship. The Eagles have won 6 of their last 7 games and both sides of the ball seem to be playing very well. The Philadelphia defense has been solid all season long. The Eagles defense ranks 3rd overall in the league holding opponents to 18 points and 274 yards of total offense for the season. The Eagles defense was playing well when Philadelphia was struggling. However, the emergence of the Philadelphia offense has the Eagles flying to new heights. During their impressive 7 game stretch, Philadelphia has averaged nearly 30 points per game. QB Donovan McNabb is playing the best he has all season and Michael Westbrook presents the big play capability. Keep an eye on these two guys because the Philadelphia offense may have to make some big plays if the Arizona offense keeps up their stellar play.
What to watch…
The Philadelphia ground game will be extremely crucial in this game. Westbrook ran for 110 yards in the last meeting and keep the Arizona offense off the field. In that game, the Eagles controlled the time of possession 39:33 to 20:27. The Cardinals must stand strong against the Philadelphia running game and allow the potent offense the opportunity to score points.
Philadelphia has reached the under total in 4 of their last 6 games and on an impressive run against the books with a mark of 12-4 ATS. Arizona is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games at home and have reached the over total in 4 of their last 5 games.
Pick – Defenses are playing well and lots of times defenses take control early in big games. Consider the under 47.