It's time to start thinking about the Arizona Cardinals, methinks.
The Cardinals own one of the best defenses in the NFL. They've done yeoman's work shutting down passing attacks all year, so much so that it's masked their very real problems stopping the run. If that sounds like a less than ideal matchup for the Falcons...well, it is.
But you've got to answer duty's call, and the Falcons have a clear path to victory if they can execute. A short passing attack bolstered by a halfway competent ground game—no given, but more than possible—will still get them on the board multiple times. And then we turn to the Cardinals offense.
I know I've talked about forcing turnovers and other mistakes from quarterbacks in recent weeks, but the quarterbacks in question were Michael Vick, Tony Romo and Drew Brees. Every single one of those guys is better than John Skelton, the Fordham product who will likely be under center for Arizona. He's completing 55.8% of his passes and has two touchdowns against five interceptions. The Cardinals have weapons in the passing game, but between their porous line and Skelton's immobility, they're not getting the ball that much.
The ground game is, improbably, even worse. Only one running back is averaging more than three yards a carry this season, and that's UDFA William Powell. He has 21 carries on the year. It's not pretty.
So for the Falcons to rise up this weekend, they'll need to keep their mistakes to a minimum on offense, play their game and cause problems with Skelton & Co. on defense. Execution is always a question, but that seems awfully doable to me.
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