Falcons vs. Cardinals: Making Arizona One-Dimensional

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona defense will give the Falcons fits. Can the Falcons slow down their offense?

The Falcons' defense hasn't been great in 2013. That sounds like an opinion, but it's a fact. When you can't rush the passer that well, when your secondary struggles at times and your linebackers are decimated by injury, you're not likely to mount a particularly vigorous challenge for opposing offenses.

The best thing the Falcons can do at this point is force mistakes and put the ball back in the hands of the offense, which has a puncher's chance of causing some damage. Against the Cardinals, it's pretty clear what you need to do: Make them one-dimensional.

If you can force the Cardinals to do nothing but pass, you put the ball in the hands of a man who has thrown 13 picks in 2013 and has been sacked 20 times in seven games. If you can force the Cardinals to run, especially early, you force them to play directly into the sole Falcons' defensive strength against the 26th-ranked Arizona ground game. Either way, you increase your chances of winning.

Of course, the likeliest outcome is that the Cardinals sling the football, because the Falcons should have little trouble slowing down that anemic rushing attack, with only Andre Ellington serving as a true threat. That means the secondary and pass rush have to be able to do good work, lest Carson Palmer regain his old form and shred them. There's no particular reason to believe the Falcons are going to (sorry) rise up and clamp down hard, but they can do enough to win.

They'll need to, because this Arizona defense is no joke. They have a quality pass rush, a dynamic secondary and the option to throw Patrick Peterson on Tony Gonzalez or Harry Douglas, effectively taking one of them out of the game entirely. One bright spot? The Cardinals have struggled to stop tight ends.

How do you think the Falcons will make the Cardinals one-dimensional, and can they sustain it?

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