NFL

Sanders to face tough test against Cardinals as Murray looks to end Eagles' winning run

By Sports Desk October 07, 2022

Standing as the only undefeated team across the NFL, the 4-0 Philadelphia Eagles will need to bring an end to a poor record in Arizona, having lost four consecutive matchups against the Cardinals.

The Eagles have not won in Arizona since Week 8 of the 2001 season, a 21-7 win highlighted by Brian Mitchell's 94-yard touchdown return of the opening kick-off, and will hope for similar magic on Sunday.

Miles Sanders enters the contest in fine form, setting a new career high in rushing yards last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars with 134 and scoring two rushing touchdowns for only the third time in his career (Week 5 & 14, 2020).

That saw him become the first Eagles player with 130+ rushing yards and two TDs in a single game since LeSean McCoy in Week 16, 2013, and only the sixth player to do so in the franchise's history.

This season, Sanders boasts 356 rushing yards to rank third among the league's rushing leaders behind only Saquon Barkley (463) and Nick Chubb (459) – the trio the only three players across the NFL to have 350+ rushing yards in the opening four games of the season.

However, the Cardinals have been strong against the rush this season with their opponents averaging just 87 yards per game, ranking fifth in the NFL, though only two teams have faced less rushing plays than Arizona (81).

For the Cardinals' offense, the onus will be firmly on Kyler Murray, who has attempted 173 passes this season, behind only Matt Ryan (195), whose 128 completions make him the sole quarterback to tally more than Murray (113, tied with Josh Allen).

However, a pass completion percentage of 65.3 is only enough to rank 14th in the NFL, with Murray's 991 yards leaving him 16th in the league and indicative of his bizarre lack of downfield threat. Murray's air yards per attempt average of 5.47 is the worst in the league among quarterbacks with at least 10 attempts.

The Eagles have allowed their opponents a gross passing yards total of 821, the seventh-lowest total in the NFL, so Murray will face a stern test if he is to lead the Cardinals to a fifth win in a row against their NFC rivals.

Related items

  • Jets hope Mike stays White hot in Vikings test Jets hope Mike stays White hot in Vikings test

    The New York Jets will undergo a fierce test of their playoff credentials on Sunday as they face the Vikings in Minnesota, where they will be hoping Mike White can deliver another inspiring performance at the quarterback position.

    At 7-4, the Jets occupy the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs, but a victory over the Vikings would move them just a game behind the Buffalo Bills (9-3) in the race for the AFC East title. The 9-2 Vikings can clinch the NFC North crown if they win and the Detroit Lions lose at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Having replaced 2021 second overall pick Zach Wilson as the starter following Wilson's dismal performance in the Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots, White led an outstanding offensive performance from the Jets in their 31-10 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 12.

    White threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Chicago, his second career game with 300+ passing yards and at least three TD passes (in five career appearances).

    The last Jets quarterback with multiple career such games prior to White for the team was Ken O'Brien with seven (last occurrence was in 1991).

    White produced that display against a Chicago defense that has seen much of its top talent traded away and ranks 29th in the NFL by yards per play allowed (5.92).

    But the Vikings have been far from impressive on defense this season and are the second-worst on that side of the ball by yards per play given up (6.05), appearing to suggest this matchup is another excellent opportunity for White to build his case for being the long-term starter.

    And New York's defense is well-equipped to slow down the Minnesota attack. The Jets' win over Chicago marked the team's fourth time this season holding an opponent to 10 or fewer points, tied for the most such games in the NFL (with Dallas and San Francisco).

    The last time the Jets had at least that many games in a season was 2010 (five), their last campaign in which they made the playoffs.

    Minnesota's offense is powered largely by the continually superb exploits of wide receiver Justin Jefferson. 

    Jefferson and Adam Thielen each caught touchdown passes in the Vikings' Thanksgiving Day win over the New England Patriots. It was the ninth time each player has had a receiving TD in the same game, the most of any NFL team-mates since Jefferson debuted at the beginning of the 2020 season.

    The Jets have the talent in the secondary to potentially limit the Vikings' receivers, and the matchup between Jefferson and New York's rookie cornerback Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner is an extremely intriguing one. Gardner has allowed receivers to get open on just 19.45 per cent of his matchups across man and zone coverage, the best rate of all cornerbacks, according to Stats Perform data.

    Yet if the game remains close, the edge appears to be with the Vikings.

    The Vikings are 8-0 in games decided by eight or fewer points this season after the 33-26 win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving. The only team in NFL history to finish a season 8-0 or better in such contests was the 2009 Indianapolis Colts (8-0).

    If Minnesota improve that tally to 9-0, rookie head coach Kevin O'Connell would join Jim Caldwell and Jim Harbaugh as the only head coaches this century to earn 10 wins in 12 or fewer games to start their career as an NFL head coach.

  • England finish strongly after centuries for Babar, Imam and Shafique England finish strongly after centuries for Babar, Imam and Shafique

    Babar Azam scored the seventh century of the match but England's persistence paid off as they took four wickets in the final session on day three of the first Test against Pakistan.

    Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) completed their hundreds in the morning session at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium before their opening stand came to an end with 225 on the board.

    Captain Babar (136) got in on the act with a typically stylish innings, but Pakistan closed on 487-7 in reply to the tourists' 657 all out – trailing by 160 runs.

    Debutant Will Jacks took 3-123 and Jack Leach claimed 2-158 on a flat wicket, England earning late rewards for toiling in the heat after Pakistan avoided the follow-on.

    Spinning all-rounder Jacks got the breakthrough after Pakistan resumed on 181 without loss, Shafique edging a wide delivery through to wicketkeeper Ollie Pope.

    Imam holed out trying to launch Leach over the rope and Pakistan were 283-3 at lunch after the left-arm tweaker trapped Azhar Ali (27) leg before.

    Babar and Saud Shakeel prevented any further damage from being done in a wicketless afternoon session, the skipper serenely scoring another century he brought up by dispatching Ben Stokes through the covers for four.

    Ollie Robinson struck in the first over after tea, though, debutant Shakeel nicking the seamer behind for 37, and Babar ended a fifth-wicket stand of 60 with Mohammad Rizwan by slapping Jacks to Leach at point.

    Rizwan (29) became James Anderson's first victim and Naseem Shah struck a well-flighted Jacks delivery to Leach in the deep as England ended the day strongly.

    Openers make history in run-fest

    All four opening batters made centuries in the same match for only the second time in a Test – and this was the first time that each of the four reached three figures in the first innings.

    It was also the first occasion in which there have been two double-century opening stands in a Test.

    Imam made his third hundred in as many Test knocks in Rawalpindi, having scored one in both innings against Australia in March. Shafique has three Test centuries in only 14 innings.

    Babar delivers another masterclass

    Skipper Babar made his eighth Test hundred and a first against England with yet another masterclass.

    The elegant right-hander showed a combination of sweet timing and aggression in a stylish knock that we have become so accustomed to seeing.

    Babar has scored three Test hundreds and four half-centuries this year in 10 Test innings, hitting one six and 19 fours in his latest exhibition of batting of the highest order.

  • NFL Talking Point: What will decide the biggest games of a compelling Week 13 slate? NFL Talking Point: What will decide the biggest games of a compelling Week 13 slate?

    This is the kind of week you dream of as an NFL fan.

    Week 13 is set to serve up a plethora of compelling matchups that will have big implications on how the playoff picture takes shape.

    The NFC favourites the Philadelphia Eagles face a real test of their credentials as they take on the Tennessee Titans.

    Last season's AFC Super Bowl representative, the Cincinnati Bengals, host the Kansas City Chiefs in a rematch of the AFC Championship Game they stunningly won in Kansas City, and there's a highly anticipated reunion of former colleagues at Levi's Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers welcome the Miami Dolphins.

    Not all of those aforementioned games are seen as the best by SmartRatings.

    SmartRatings is an AI-based platform that provides excitement ratings for sporting events, teams and players. The excitement scale, ranging from 0-100, is powered by complex algorithms that are predicated upon six primary variables: pace, parity, novelty, momentum, context and social buzz.

    The weight of each variable is dynamic and adapts as a season progresses. The excitement scale translates to the following general sub-ranges: 0-39 (Dull Game), 40-64 (OK Game), 65-84 (Good Game) and 85-100 (Great Game).

    Here, Stats Perform picks out three games from the top five with the most significant playoff implications and looks at the battles that could decide them.

    New Orleans Saints (4-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

    SmartRating : 60
    Win Probability : Buccaneers 68.6%
    Key Matchup : Marcus Davenport vs. Josh Wells

    The Buccaneers suffered a massive blow when right tackle Tristan Wirfs sustained a high ankle sprain in their loss to the Cleveland Browns last week.

    Wirfs is expected to be out three to four weeks, meaning he will miss a critical stretch for Tampa Bay as the Bucs seek to win an extremely underwhelming NFC South.

    That stretch starts with a rivalry game against the Saints on Monday Night Football, with New Orleans still only a game back in the win column of the Bucs despite their 4-8 record.

    New Orleans' defense has not been the force of years past but the return of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport saw the Saints perform extremely well on that side of the ball in their 13-0 loss to the 49ers in Week 12.

    When he has been healthy, Davenport has been extremely impressive. He has a pass-rush win rate of 49.03 per cent and a 66.67 per cent win rate on run defense. His aggregate of 48.03 per cent is the fourth-highest among edge rushers. 

    Now he gets to go against Wirfs' backup in the form of Josh Wells. If Wells cannot find a way to slow him down, Tom Brady and the Bucs may struggle to move the ball on offense and give hope to a Saints attack needing life after being shutout by San Francisco.

    Miami Dolphins (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4) Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

    SmartRating : 62
    Win Probability : 49ers 53.5%
    Key Matchup : Mike McDaniel vs. DeMeco Ryans

    It's arguably the NFL's most distinguished offensive play-calling professor against his star pupil as Kyle Shanahan's 49ers host Mike McDaniel's Miami Dolphins in a mouth-watering contest teeming with narratives.

    McDaniel has spent much of his coaching career at the hip of Shanahan, following him to almost all of his NFL stops, including San Francisco, where he was run-game coordinator and then offensive coordinator last season before departing for Miami.

    Yet McDaniel, who has turned the Dolphins' offense into one of the most explosive in the NFL and the most efficient in the league by yards per play, will not be focusing on outcoaching his former boss, but instead outwitting San Francisco's defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

    Ryans will likely become a head coach in the coming offseason, having so far overseen another dominant season from the 49er defense.

    San Francisco's defense has allowed the fewest plays of 10+ yards (106) in the NFL and is also the top unit by yards per play allowed (4.69) and success rate (34.5%).

    The Miami offense leads the league in big plays of at least 10 yards with 174 and has a receiver in Tyreek Hill who has an open percentage of 68.18 against man coverage, that figure trailing only Stefon Diggs (68.57) as of Week 12, and a combined open percentage across man and zone of 51.67.

    The 49ers will hope to use the edge they have up front against a banged-up Miami offensive line to their advantage and boast the edge rusher with the highest aggregate win rate (52.42%) across pass rush and run defense for his position in the league in Nick Bosa.

    It is a true strength-on-strength matchup, and the clash between McDaniel's varied and high-powered attack against Ryans' versatile and ferocious defense figures to be fascinating to watch.

    Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

    SmartRating : 68
    Win Probability : Chiefs 66.4%
    Key Matchup : Ja'Marr Chase vs. Chiefs' pass defense

    The Cincinnati passing game saw its hot streak tempered a little by the Tennessee defense in the Bengals' narrow win over the Titans last week, but a meeting with the Chiefs represents a favourable matchup for Zac Taylor's offense.

    Cincinnati's offense has averaged 293.3 net passing yards per game in the NFL since Week 6, the third-most in the NFL, and has done much of that damage without top wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

    Chase is due to return from a hip injury on Sunday, having recorded three 100-yard games in his first seven appearances of the season.

    He gets the opportunity to add to that against a Kansas City defense that ranks 21st in open percentage allowed to opposing receivers.

    That suggests he should have no difficulty returning to top form right off the bat in this conference title game rematch against a defense that is ninth-worst in the NFL by success rate against the pass.

    Though the Bengals had joy shackling Patrick Mahomes and Co. in the second half of that championship game, it is more likely the duel between he and Joe Burrow quickly becomes a shootout.

    How successful Chase is in taking advantage of a very vulnerable Chiefs secondary may dictate whether the Bengals can keep up and pull off the upset once more.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.