The Falcons will welcome the Arizona Cardinals to the Georgia Dome this Sunday. Coming off of last week's loss to division rival New Orleans, the Falcons have an opportunity to get back on track with a conference win, and lock up their fifth consecutive winning season--another franchise first.
When the 4-5 Cardinals cross your mind, you're probably thinking things like, "Who is their starting quarterback, anyway?" And, "Do they even have a running back on their active roster?" And, "Does Larry Fitzgerald regret signing that giant contract to stay in Arizona?" All valid questions. But, all kidding aside, Arizona's defense is quite good. They are second in the league currently in total passing yards allowed per game. They have posted 27 sacks on the season, good for fourth in the league. Their defense has managed 9 interceptions and 8 forced fumbles this year, seven of which they recovered.
Arizona's run defense is another story, currently ranked 24th in the league, and allowing an average of 126.1 yards per game. The Falcons have an opportunity on Sunday to exploit this and revive their rushing game, which has been erratic at best this season.
Arizona's offense has been--to put it mildly--a hot mess. The offensive line has allowed 41 sacks, 23 hits and 122 hurries on the rotation of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, depending on whichever guy is healthy enough to be under center in any given week. With those numbers, it's not difficult to understand why the Cardinals are currently 31st in the league in total offense, averaging 295.4 yards per game. 219.2 of those yards come from the passing game, and the Cardinals are 32nd in the league with 76.2 rushing yards per game.
The Cardinals will be starting two rookies along the offensive line, and rookie left tackle Nate Potter will be charged with fending off the relentless pass rush of John Abraham. That could be a bad scene for John Skelton, who will likely get the start as Kevin Kolb continues to recover from a rib injury. Certainly, despite their lack of a successful rushing game, Arizona will try to get something going on the ground to take pressure off of Skelton. The Falcons will need to limit the bad angles and missed tackles, and keep the heat on Skelton with the pass rush.
The Cardinals are coming off of a bye week, and are pretty desperate for a win after starting the season 4-0 and then losing five games in a row. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington, who has had an outstanding season, with 8 sacks so far, made a point of saying that he would like to hand Atlanta their second consecutive loss.
The Falcons can't sleepwalk through this one. They will need to play smart football, and correct some of the mistakes that led to last week's loss. Arizona's defense is good, but Atlanta's offense is great, averaging 27.4 points per game to Arizona's 16. Atlanta's defense significantly outclasses the Arizona offense. There is no reason the Falcons should not walk away with a win on Sunday. The way they come out and play after last week's loss should tell us a lot about this Falcons team.
What are you looking for from the Falcons on Sunday?