Eagles Double-Digit Favorites Against Jonathan Gannon

Arizona's Struggling Defense Faces Critical Test in Week 17.

by Nouman Rasool
Eagles Double-Digit Favorites Against Jonathan Gannon
© Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In a crucial Week 17 matchup, the Philadelphia Eagles face a significant challenge as they take on the Arizona Cardinals, led by their former defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon. This game carries more than just the usual stakes; it's a battle against a past that haunts the Eagles – the loss of their second-ever Super Bowl under Gannon’s defense.

The Eagles, who are hosting the game, are currently 11-point favorites, a position reinforced by the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook. Initially, the Eagles were favored by 12 points, but a less-than-convincing performance against the New York Giants, where they didn’t cover a 14-point spread, has slightly shifted the odds.

Philadelphia’s season has been marked by narrow victories, making it challenging to predict a comfortable win confidently. Their track record this year doesn’t fully align with the expectations of an 11-point favorite.

Conversely, with a disappointing 3-12 record, the Cardinals are struggling significantly in the league. They are only ahead of the Carolina Panthers and have poor points differential and DVOA rankings.

Cardinals' Defensive Woes

A surprising aspect of this matchup is the underperformance of the Cardinals' defense, an area where Gannon is expected to excel.

They’ve allowed an average of 26.9 points per game, placing them second-worst in the NFL. Additionally, their defense ranks at the bottom in DVOA, and their performance against both passing and rushing plays has been notably weak.

Despite talents like Budda Baker, the Cardinals' defense has been unable to make a significant impact, as highlighted by Baker's lack of interceptions, passes defensed, forced fumbles, or sacks this season. This could allow the Eagles’ offense to capitalize and score.

However, the Eagles' defense faces its own uncertainties. Since the return of Kyler Murray, the Cardinals have been averaging 20.7 points per game. While not impressive, this figure shows they’re not an entirely blunted force.

Murray’s improving performance, especially post his ACL injury recovery, is a concern for the Eagles. His recent highest passer rating of the season against the Chicago Bears is a testament to his gradual return to form.

For the Eagles, the key to victory lies in their own performance. Avoiding self-inflicted mistakes is crucial. While they have the upper hand on paper, the unpredictability of the NFL, combined with the emotional undercurrents of facing a former coach, makes this game an intriguing watch.

The outcome of this match could very well hinge on which team best capitalizes on the other’s weaknesses and maintains composure under pressure.