Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a nice young man from a good family who excels at his craft and will go far in society after his playing days are done.
So why do I have these fantasies about food poisoning every time the Cardinals play the Eagles? Maybe because it's the only sure way you could count Fitzgerald out and keep him from beating the Eagles once again.
Fitzgerald, a seven-time Pro Bowler, enters Sunday’s game with 50 catches and 606 yards. His eight touchdowns equal his best season in four years, with five games left on the schedule. The veteran has 18 catches and four TDs during the Cardinals four-game winning streak and has nine career touchdown grabs against the Eagles, including playoffs.
“We’re going to have to keep the ball in our possession as much as possible,” Fitzgerald said during a phone conference Wednesday. “We need to try to keep the Philly offense off the field.”
Rob Edwards of the South Jersey Times backed my play with some key research and commentary upon Fitzgerald's impact upon any game involving the Eagles.
"The Philly offense will be led by NFC Offensive Player of the Month in Foles, but it’s been the Carson Palmer show in Arizona over the last four weeks, as the quarterback has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes during that stretch with eight scores and just two interceptions."
"The emergence of Michael Floyd (49 receptions, 761 yards, three TDs) as the No. 2 wideout has enhanced the play of both Palmer and Fitzgerald and helped the Cardinals offense find its stride after a rocky start."
“He’s helped our whole team,” Fitzgerald said about Floyd. “Any time you have guys step up and make plays it give us more options. Rob Housler and Rashard Mendenhall have been playing real well for us, but we’re a team effort across the board and we’re going to attack you with our skill guys.”
Eagles corners Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams will be assigned the task of shutting down Floyd and Fitzgerald — a tandem of defensive backs Fitzgerald is familiar with.
“Both those guys are battle tested,” he said. “I played against Fletch, I don’t know how many times when he was in St. Louis and I played against Cary a couple of years ago. They have a lot of talent in the secondary.”
Williams has rebounded after questionable play and comments he made earlier this season and Fletcher has been a surprise in the secondary, helping the Eagles defense hold opponents to under 21 points for seven straight games.
Said Fletcher: “I’ve been able to stay with Fitzgerald. They’re a challenge and we’re ready.”
The always confident Williams shared the same sentiment after practice Wednesday. “Larry is a great player and has proven that over the years,” he said. “He’s gonna make some plays, I’m gonna make some plays as well. I’m not backing down."
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m gonna go play my defense and do what coach asks me to do.”
The implications of Sunday’s matchup go much further than pride among defensive backs and wideouts. Both teams are very much in the race for a playoff spot, as the Eagles remain in a race for first place in the NFC East division with a 6-5 record, while Arizona is trying to stay afloat in the NFC West, in a tie for second place despite a 7-4 record. The Dallas Cowboys, of course, took a big step forward in the Eagles' division by beating the Oakland Raiders 31-24 on Turkey Day, and are now 7-5.
A Cardinals win over the Eagles would keep them in the Wild Card hunt, while a loss for Philadelphia could spell disaster, as the Eagles will likely have to win the East Division in order to earn a postseason berth.
A lot on the line for a Week 12 contest…
“I’m not exactly sure where the Eagles are at in the NFC East,” Fitzgerald said. “They’re right in the thick of it, we’re battling and right in the fight and have to keep pace with San Francisco. Carolina is surging right now and that Wild Card in the NFC is not gonna be an easy race."
“Both teams have a lot to play for and a lot at stake and I look forward to competing (Sunday).”
So do we, Larry, so do we… Hey, the night before the game, you're welcome to drop by my house in Conowingo… I'd like you to taste-test some barbecued chicken recipes I've been working on…