ACROSS ENEMY LINES: THE CARDINALS & PHOENIX

I kinda hate the Cardinals right now, but mostly the St. Louis ones. Stop winning. Please. And to make matters worse, the Eagles are in Phoenix today to play the Arizona Cardinals, who are located in Phoenix, although they used to be in St. Louis. Up until 2001 the Eagles and Cardinals faced off twice a year, and it’s the red birds who have the advantage at 32-39-2.

Both teams head into the game at 2-0 – and both fanbases are probably a little surprised, but hey, I’ll take it. This is also the second straight game in which the Eagles face a bird opponent – maybe Rueben Frank has a stat on how Philly fares in these situations.

Outside of waxing nostalgic about Buddy Ryan or scratching my head about Kenny Kolb’s performance this year, I don’t have much to say about the game, so I drafted Scott Allen of the AZ Cardinals site Raising Zona. We had a nice little chat about neutralizing the Eagles (which the Eagles do a pretty good job of themselves), beer drinking around Phoenix, and, most importantly, mascot battles. We don’t endorse the RHCP mention though.

SOP: The Cardinals have started out the season 2-0. How surprising is this to you, including the win against the Patriots?

SA: Well clearly I nor many others went up the road to Las Vegas and put $100 on the Cardinals to win or start the season 2-0. That being said, it’s just two games. They both could have gone the other way. Something I’m sure Eagles fans are aware of too for their team. However the special teams have been great (and would be even better if they hadn’t allowed a long kickoff and punt return in week one against Seattle). The defense, although giving up yards, has been making plays when it counts the most. They sacked Tom Brady four times. The offense, although not spectacular, has limited its mistakes for the most part and they had great ball control in the Patriots game. I pegged them at 1-1 at this point, so yeah I would say 2-0 is a surprise.

SOP: What do the Cardinals need to do against the Eagles to come out with a win? Which Eagle(s) will be the most difficult to neutralize?

SA: They need to employ the same game plan, but they also need to score and come up with turnovers. With nine Eagles turnovers in the first week, I’m fairly certain it is a point of emphasis this week for them, so it will be that much more difficult for the Cards to come up with them. With the Eagles, it all starts and ends with Michael Vick. With his mobility, he can turn what looks like a loss into a gain.

SOP: Let’s talk about Phoenix now – what can visiting fans expect from the city? Any suggestions on places to eat, local beers to drink, or bands to check out?

SA: Expect it to still be warm. We had a slight cool down to the 80’s and 90s two weeks ago, but this weekend temps will be around 98-100 during the day and 75-80 at night. Expect nice weather though. Still good swimming weather. If around the stadium area in Glendale, which is about 20 miles west of downtown Phoenix, Westgate will be the area to hang. The Yardhouse, Saddle Ranch, and Gordon Biersch are the best places for grub and beer. If fans are looking to explore the Phoenix area a bit, please do. Plenty to do – even as far away as 40-50 miles from the stadium on the east side of the valley in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. Four Peaks Brewery is hands down the best in town. They have a location in Tempe near ASU and in North Scottsdale. Both are seconds away from the freeways which will take you directly to the game. There are a ton of places to dine though, including some popular places featured on The Food Network, but for best sports viewing, go to one of the places I’ve listed.

I really don’t know the local music scene too much. There are a lot of bars though that feature bands on Friday and Saturday nights. I can tell you Red Hot Chili Peppers will be here Tuesday night September 25h at Jobing.com arena in Glendale if anyone is making a longer stay out of it. My favorite local band is Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. They play all kinds of venues around town big and small. Their next gig is at an Oktoberfest event on September 29th. Great music!

SOP: Who would win a back alley brawl – Swoop or Big Red?

SA: HA! Well, if I’m playing the hometown favorite, I pick Big Red in every fight. However, that being said, let’s be real. Swoop is an Eagle. Eagles steal from OTHER Eagles. When you steal from your own kind, you just don’t want to pick a fight with that species. Plus, Big Red, you know he’s coming. He’s RED! Can seem him coming a mile away. I hate to say it, Swoop wins. It would be the only Eagle victory of the weekend I can tell you that!

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