Two weeks ago we saw one of the toughest games to watch from a fan perspective, and a large part of that was due to the domination that took place at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for the Eagles. This week, the Falcons take on the Arizona Cardinals in a big matchup at the Georgia Dome.
The Cardinals have a great back in David Johnson and, while Carson Palmer has struggled recently, they have the ability to stretch the field. Here is how we see the matchup with Atlanta’s defense and Arizona’s offense turning out.
In the trenches
The game against the Eagles really highlighted a big area of concern for some Falcons fans and that is the team’s ability to stop the run on a consistent basis. While Arizona does not have the offensive line that the Eagles do—A.Q. Shipley and Mike Iupati have both played pretty well—they do have a fantastic running back in David Johnson. I think that the Falcons enter this game knowing they have something to prove in the trenches, but I also think the Cardinals are well aware of the deficiencies of the Atlanta defensive line.
At this point, we know what the Falcons are when it comes to defense and their ability, but the youth is still a large factor in this team, so if the front seven can be more disciplined in their run fits and finish plays when they have the chance, we could see some improvement this week. I think Vic Beasley should continue to get to the quarterback when he is lined up against D.J. Humphries, but this will really come down to the Falcons ability to stop the run—and that really worries me.
Advantage: Arizona Cardinals
This matchup should be a lot more even than the one at the line of scrimmage for a number of reasons: the Falcons are more talented in this department and the Cardinals have been inconsistent throwing the ball lately. While Michael Floyd and J.J. Nelson have underperformed at times this year, they have potential to be problems for the Falcons—especially Floyd. On top of that, Jermaine Gresham is the perfect candidate for a performance circa Ben Watson 2015 that has us all scratching our heads.
I think Desmond Trufant and the rest of the secondary actually matchup well here, for the most part, but I don’t think it is such a good fit that I would call it an advantage. The should be in good position to make plays and hopefully force a turnover or two, but with Trufant being back for the first time since his injury and the versatility of guys like Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald (a huge test for Brian Poole), this matchup isn’t as simple as some think.
Atlanta can be incredibly frustrating to watch on defense but they can also be incredibly fun to watch, with guys like Deion Jones and Keanu Neal flying around the field. This team is getting better but they definitely are not there yet. The Cardinals should try to run the ball right down the gut of Atlanta and force them to stop it, and, unfortunately, I’m not sure they will—or they haven’t shown me that they will, at least.
If the defense can create turnovers and pressure Palmer, this game will look totally different, but they haven’t been consistent enough yet for me to say they will. I definitely hope they do, though. Nonetheless...