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Cardinals blow out Eagles, clinch NFC West crown


PHILADELPHIA -- The Arizona Cardinals allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to hang around for a half before pumping the gas in a 40-17 win that clinched the division for Bruce Arians and Co. Here's what we learned...

1. Prior to a fourth-and-1 attempt just before halftime with the Eagles trailing 17-10, DeMarco Murray had been on the field for just two snaps. In both of those plays he was a decoy. Despite that, he remains by far the most effective short yardage back on the Eagles' roster, converting all 15 of his third- and fourth-and-1 attempts this season. This is information readily available to Chip Kelly and something he has to know. Despite this, with Sam Bradford under center, Ryan Mathews plodded ahead for a half-yard and Philadelphia lost its best chance of making progress before the gun. If Kelly is the calculated, situational head coach he claims to be, Murray should be in the game. If not, there is little reason to have him on the roster without some kind of explanation. Is he hurt? Does a deeper rift exist than we initially thought?

2. David Johnson's 47-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was reminiscent of vintage Marshawn Lynch, but it was also the perfect summation of Philadelphia's tackling on the night. The Eagles are built like a physical defense but never came close to showing it. Prior to that long run, Byron Maxwell was dragged by Darren Fells for almost 20 yards to set up Arizona's first score. Call it toughness, or attitude or maybe just a summation of parts that are not assembled correctly.

3. The Eagles, stunningly, are just two wins away from the playoffs. As bad as they've been, it's very possible they beat the Redskins at home on Saturday and travel up to MetLife and play well against a very bizarre Giants team. Of course, Washington is firing on all cylinders at the moment and the Eagles do not have the kind of defensive backs on the roster that can defend DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.

4. Carson Palmer is in a crowded MVP market at the moment, especially on a day when Cam Newton nonchalantly rolled off another last-minute win to stay undefeated. But during a game that wasn't exactly perfect for Arizona, Palmer got whacked on his throwing hand, bending his right index finger way beyond the typical angle associated with a finger. He missed just one play in a game that Arizona didn't really need and was on the move throwing passes right away on the following drive. This is just a microcosm, of course. Had John Brown not dropped two sure-fire touchdown passes, Palmer would have exited with astronomical numbers. Instead, he calmly -- and painfully -- executed the league's most beautiful offense.

5. This Cardinals team is astonishingly deep at almost every position, including their coaching staff. Tom Moore is an associate and Harold Goodwin is an offensive coordinator. One should have been a head coach, and one will be a very good one in the coming years. Goodwin's run designs have been an under-the-radar reason for the Cardinals' success. The Eagles were missing their two best cornerbacks for a large portion of Sunday's game and the Cardinals didn't even need to pick on them.

6. Sam Bradford is not going to be remembered for playing a great game on Sunday night, but he was near-excellent given the circumstances. Bradford was finally passing up some of the obvious check down throws and was heaving tight passes into small windows. He took a massive shot in the Eagles' end zone to convert a third down -- another gutsy throw that shows us we're maybe a season away from seeing a really fascinating career resurrection.

7. An additional thought on Murray: He spent a portion of the game in a ski cap on the sidelines, which defies the rotational logic Kelly was touting over the past two weeks. Murray also had an opportunity to demolish a Cardinals defender on a block earlier in the third quarter, but athletically sidestepped him. This may have been to avoid a needless penalty, but when teammates and fans are already wondering why you're on the sideline, it's not a great look. This has been a woeful experiment so far.