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December 19, 2015

5 over/unders for Eagles vs. Cardinals

Eagles NFL
121915_Larry-Fitzgerald_AP Rick Scuteri/AP

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has killed the Philadelphia Eagles in his career.

A primetime matchup against one of the league's best teams? Yes, please.

As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for their game against the 11-2 Arizona Cardinals, here are five over/unders that should help occupy you while you're waiting all day for Sunday night.

Total points: 51.5

That's the current total being offered at, that seems pretty spot on to me. If you just go by our staff predictions, two of us are predicting a final total of 52 points, while the other sees it being slightly more high scoring.

If the Eagles want to win this game, they'll likely need to hit the under. I just don't see them putting a ton of points up on this Cardinals defense. I also don't have a ton of confidence that their defense will be able to stop Carson Palmer and Co., but I think they can at least slow them slightly. After all, they're only averaging 23 points/game over the last three weeks. 

Their defense, however, has surrendered just 12 points/game over that span. Still, I think the two teams combine for enough points to hit the over -- at least that's what my prediction says, so I'll stick to it -- and that's likely bad news for the Birds.


Larry Fitzgerald receiving yards: 85.5

Fitzgerald has only topped 100 yards three times this season and just once -- he had 10 catches for 130 yards against the Seahawks in Week 10 -- since Week 3. Furthermore, Fitzgerald hasn't scored since Week 8, and that's his only touchdown since Oct. 11 (Week 5). That's in part due to a lingering ankle injury that has kept Fitzgerald on the injury report this week, albeit listed as probable.

Many, however, expect all that to change this weekend when he takes on the Eagles, a team he has feasted on in his career. In six career regular season* games against them, Fitzgerald has caught 38 passes (6.3/game) for 650 yards (108.3/game) and eight touchdowns. His yards-per-game average is his second best of any opponent -- he's averaging 115.3 in three games against the Bears. His 17.11 yards/catch are also second best, with the only one better being the 20.18 yards he's averaged in three games against the Ravens. 

Oh, and in his lone postseason game against the Birds -- the 2009 NFC Championship -- Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Three. 

On Sunday, he'll face an Eagles defense that has struggled against the pass. They've allowed 29 touchdowns through the air this season, second-worst in the NFL. That stat can be somewhat misleading -- 13 of those 29 TDs came in a three-week stretch, meaning they've given up just 16 in their other 10 games -- but that doesn't wipe them off the ledger. 

The main thing working against Fitzgerald at the Linc, aside from his ankle, will be his teammates. He may still be the most productive receiver on his team, but Carson Palmer has plenty of other weapons and has no problem using them. The 11-year vet leads his team in receptions (96), yards (1,088) and touchdowns (7), but the rest of his receivers -- Michael Floyd, John Brown and J.J. Nelson -- round out one of the most dangerous receiving corps in the league. And as the season has progressed, Palmer's been going to them more and more often.

Against the Eagles, however, I think the Cardinals wideouts will have plenty of receptions to spread around. I also don't see it being a blowout, meaning Palmer will likely be throwing throughout the game. And if that's the case, I don't see any reason why Fitzgerald can't get close to his first 100-yard game in more than a month.


Sam Bradford passer rating: 89.5

Over his last four games, Bradford's passer rating has been a comfy 97.5, which is 21 points better than his rating through the first seven games of the season. And in the last six games that Bradford has started (and finished), the Eagles are 5-1, with the lone loss coming to the Panthers in Week 7.

Come Sunday night, Bradford will be facing a Cardinals defense that has surrendered a 78.1 rating to opposing quarterbacks this season. To give that number some context, the previous four teams* Bradford has faced -- the ones against which he's posted that 97.5 passer rating -- are allowing opposing QBs to post a 89.5 rating. As for the Panthers, which was the last time Bradford seemed to struggle, they've allowed an impressive 69.6 rating.

*Bills (84.0), Patriots (83.1), Dolphins (100.0), Cowboys (91.2).

It's going to be cold on Sunday night, but the wind shouldn't be a factor. That could make for a high-scoring affair, but I think the Cardinals defense, which ranks third in INTs, fourth in total yards and seventh in points allowed, gets the better of the Eagles QB in this one.


Carson Palmer passing TDs: 2.5

Palmer has just four passing touchdowns in his last three games after throwing for 11 of them in his previous three games. Still, he has tossed multiple TDs in 10 of his 13 games this season, including six of his last seven games. And six times this season, Palmer has thrown for three or more scores in a game.

Against an Eagles secondary that doesn't have a ton of depth, especially after the loss of Nolan Carroll, Palmer could have a field day. Last season, with a worse secondary, the Birds held him to just a pair of touchdowns. But Palmer wasn't playing this well a year ago.


Total turnovers: 2.5

The Eagles, like the Cardinals, have created 25 turnovers this season, which leaves them tied for second in the league. And neither team is particularly great at protecting the ball, either. The Cardinals have turned it over 19 times (14th), while the Eagles have turned it over 23 times (24th).

But based on the last three games, you can hardly tell. The Eagles have given it up just once in each of their last three, while the Cardinals ... well, they haven't turned it over at all. 

The defenses, however, have still been creating takeaways. Both teams have four in their last two games. I have a feeling each team will get at least one on Sunday night, and wouldn't be surprised if they each got a pair.    


Follow Matt on Twitter:  @matt_mullin