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Four Critical Matchups For Atlanta vs. Arizona

Kevin C. Cox

On paper the Falcons have the upper hand against the Cardinals. Arizona started off hot with a 4-0 record, but the wheels are coming off after five straight losses.

The last time these two teams squared off didn't end well for Ken Whisenhunt's side. Atlanta poured it on down the stretch, finishing with a monstrous 41-7 victory. Derek Anderson (ha) is no longer under center for the Cards, so there's a plus, I guess.

Let's go ahead and take a look at some of the key matchups that should put the Falcons over the top to improve to 9-1.

Roddy White vs. Patrick Peterson

Peterson took a step back in the past few weeks, allowing four touchdowns in three games. Remember Michael Crabtree embarrassing him on Monday Night Football? Despite the recent woes, Peterson has still only allowed 53 percent of passes thrown at him to be caught, and he still boasts an opposing passer rating of 74.2. With Julio Jones' status up in the air for Week 11, we can expect Peterson to shadow White all day.

Roddy can take on any defender and fare well, he's just that good. Peterson is right around the same size, he's fast and he possesses a great skill-set to matchup well with opposing wideouts. This will be a fun battle to watch, but Roddy will have to step up and win often even if Julio does play.

Kroy Biermann vs. Bobby Massie

Watching the Cardinals in pass protection is like skiing for the first time. You start off barely standing and eventually you're on the ground the entire day. John Skelton can attest to that. As a whole their offensive line has given up 40 (yes, 40) sacks, 23 hits and 122 hurries. Honestly, I swear I'm not making these numbers up. Rookie right tackle Bobby Massie currently leads Arizona with the most sacks (13) allowed, and is second in hurries (34). If Biermann doesn't get a sack this week, I for one will be sorely disappointed.

Massie will start opposite of another rookie, Nate Potter, so the Falcons should have a field day against the young tackles. Should. Let's hope the departure of Ray Edwards will only spur Biermann's motor to kick into an even higher gear. John Abraham should see time against both tackles as well. Over/under on sacks?

Dunta Robinson vs. Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald lines up all over the field, but he'll see the most of his action on the left side. Robinson gave up three receptions on three targets while covering Marques Colston last week, including a touchdown on a quick slant route at the goal line. Opposing quarterbacks are enjoying an impressive 117.3 quarterback rating against Dunta in 2012. He'll certainly have his hands full once again facing Larry Fitz in Week 11.

Skelton has thrown four picks when targeting Fitzgerald so far. He forces throws to his No. 1 receiver and tends to miss his mark rather often, completing 51 of 90 targets in nine games. Dunta at least needs to make sure he doesn't let Fitzgerald get away. He scored a ridiculous touchdown against Green Bay after breaking 30 tackles, and he has the ability to take it to the house at any minute. It's really a shame he doesn't play with, you know, a good quarterback.

Peter Konz vs. Darnell Dockett

What little success the Falcons found in the run game last week came on the right side of the line. Konz was rated by PFF as the best on the team in run blocking, and Smitty needs to keep running his way. Dockett will be lining up against Konz often throughout Sunday's game, which is good news for the rookie. With an unbelievably bad rating of -6.0 against the run this season, Dockett can easily be isolated by Konz, freeing up room for Turner/Quizz/Snelling to run and other blockers to work on other defenders.

Two weeks ago the Packers found great success running towards right guard against the Cardinals, compiling six carries for 26 yards at this lane. Konz will continue to improve as the season progresses, and so will the Falcons run game if they pick on Dockett and his side of the defense this week.