GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Through four games, the Philadelphia Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals remember days like that, even if they're OK with their current situation.
The Eagles (4-0) — the league's only undefeated team — play at Arizona on Sunday. The Cardinals (2-2) were the NFL's final undefeated team last year, when they started 7-0.
Arizona's 2021 season could provide a cautionary tale for the Eagles. The Cardinals faded down the stretch, dropping four of their final five regular-season games before a lopsided loss to the Rams in the playoffs.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has said this year's early doses of humility — including a lopsided loss to the Chiefs in the opener — could make his team more resilient.
“We started off slow this season,” Murray said. “We’re entering the second quarter of the season and I think it’s a great opportunity. We’ve got a great team coming in. In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”
The Eagles rank in the top 10 in most major categories on both offense and defense and have a plus-8 turnover margin.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has entered the MVP conversation with four outstanding performances to help the Eagles reach 4-0 for the sixth time in franchise history. Hurts is first in the NFL in yards per attempt (9.1) and ranks fifth in the league in yards passing.
JUST FOR KICKS
Kickers aren't expected to be the toughest guys in the locker room. Jake Elliott certainly earned some respect from his teammates after his performance against Jacksonville.
The 167-pound Elliott was drilled by cornerback Tyson Campbell on a 43-yard field goal try. Campbell was flagged for roughing the kicker and the Eagles’ drive was extended. Elliott limped out later in rainy conditions, kicked a 28-yard field goal and hobbled off the field. Elliott, a Pro Bowl selection last season, was clearly in pain. He missed practice Wednesday with a right ankle injury.
“Jake is one of the toughest people I’ve ever met regardless of the position that he plays. Everyone sees a kicker and they think something differently,” special teams coach Michael Clay said. “But he’s tough out there."
The Eagles signed Cameron Dicker to the practice squad this week in case Elliott can’t play.
Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick faces his former team one week after one of the best games of his career.
Reddick had two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in the Eagles' 29-21 win over Jacksonville.
Reddick was the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2017 but struggled until 2020, when the coaching staff made him primarily a pass rusher. The linebacker responded with a career-high 12 1/2 sacks. He signed with the Carolina Panthers for 2021 before ending up with the Eagles this year.
“When I got here, he was a standup, and we were trying to make him middle linebacker,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Finally, we were like, ‘Hey, let’s try him where he played so well in college.’ It’s just been awesome, he’s such a great person, to see the success he’s had.
"You’ve got to have a plan. He wrecked that game against Jacksonville last week creating those turnovers there late, so we’ve got to have some way to try and slow him down.”
SO DOES ERTZ
Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz also faces his former team for the first time since coming to the desert last year in a midseason trade.
Ertz played nine seasons with Philadelphia, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and a 2018 All-Pro. He also caught the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles' Super Bowl win after the 2017 season.
The tight end has become an important part of Arizona's offense, catching 22 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns this season.
“It’ll probably be a little weird for him maybe,” Murray said. “He had such a great career there. To go against them for the first time since being traded, he’ll probably have some emotions, I’m sure.”
The Eagles have nearly monopolized NFC defensive player of the week honors. Reddick won it last week, following teammates Brandon Graham (against Washington) and Darius Slay (against Minnesota) to give Philly players three straight weeks of winning the award.
AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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