Foles to test his Luck against the Cardinals

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
9:00
AM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Foles was drafted 87 spots after Andrew Luck. On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback gets a chance to prove he's better -- against the Arizona Cardinals defense, at least.

Last week, the Cardinals held Luck to 163 yards and a late, meaningless touchdown. Luck completed 20 of 39 passes and threw one interception. He was sacked only once, but his passer rating was an abysmal 44.6 when the Cardinals pressured him, which was often.

"They have a lot of talent," Foles said. "They have a lot of size up front -- 'backers and secondary are very athletic. So it will be a great test for our whole offense."

For Foles, it is more than an opportunity to look better than Luck for a week. It is a chance to perform at the same high level he has for a month against a superior defense. He still has a chance at Peyton Manning's NFL record, set this year, of 20 touchdown passes before throwing an interception. Foles has thrown 16 touchdowns.

"I think Nick's done a really good job against the blitz," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. "I think it's one of his strengths, because I think he's intelligent and he's got a really good understanding of what we're doing."

"I think he sees the field well," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "He understands what the defense is going to do going into the game, and he's able to come back and talk about where the pressure came, where he needed to go with the football. So I think he's very aware of what a defense can and will do to him. But I think that gets better with time, and I anticipate he'll even be better this week."

The Cards' reputation as a blitz-happy defense may be overblown a bit. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Cardinals have rushed four or fewer players on 61 percent of opponent dropbacks during their four-game winning streak. They have intercepted five passes during that stretch without relying on the blitz to disrupt the quarterback.

Fewer pass-rushers means more players dropping into coverage, of course. For the Cards, that means playmakers like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Karlos Dansby.

"The reason they don't get burned [when they do blitz] is that they have a good secondary," Foles said. "They really try to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and then their secondary hunkers down and tries to take away the easy routes. They make you work for it."

Overall, the Cardinals have 15 interceptions, which is tied for third most in the NFL. They are in the middle of the pack -- tied for 16th -- with 29 sacks.

The last time the Eagles played a defense this well-rounded, it was Kansas City and Michael Vick was the quarterback. The Eagles turned the ball over five times in a 26-16 loss.

Foles has excelled against Oakland, Green Bay and Washington the past three games. If he can be as successful against the Cardinals, that will take more talent than luck -- and more than Luck.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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