today's game

The Baltimore Sun

Philadelphia (11-6-1) at Arizona (11-7), 3 p.m.

TV: Chs. 45, 5

Line: Eagles by 3 1/2

What works for Arizona: The Cardinals' passing game features two of the best playmakers in the NFL in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. QB Kurt Warner reinvented himself this season in the desert. But the biggest reason the Cardinals are in the championship game is their defense, which has forced nine turnovers in two playoff games and is allowing just 67.5 rushing yards in the postseason.

What works for Philadelphia: Defense has carried the Eagles all season. They were fourth in defending the run, third in sacks per play and fourth in scoring defense. Turnovers (29) were up as well, and that allowed the offense to work through its typical running-game problems.

Trouble brewing: The Cardinals must protect Warner against the Eagles' blitz schemes or they're in for a long day. That means having a running threat in Edgerrin James. The Eagles' secondary needs the pass rush to be able to handle Boldin and Fitzgerald.

Matchup to watch: Boldin vs. CB Asante Samuel. Boldin missed the divisional round with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals need a big game from him. Samuel has made a big difference in the Eagles' secondary.

Intangibles: This is a legacy game for Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Forget the Super Bowl loss to New England. If he loses in Arizona, Philadelphia will not forgive him. He has a chance to write his own farewell, if, in fact, he's leaving. That's a lot of pressure on a guy who hasn't always played his best in the biggest games.

The Baltimore Sun's pick: Expect the Eagles to find a way to get to Warner, and once they do, the Cardinals will have trouble staying in the game. Arizona committed 30 turnovers this season, and the Eagles will force a few more in a 37-31 victory.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad