Arizona Cardinals vs. Atlanta Falcons preview: Clash of the Birds


Which bird will fly high in the Georgia Dome this Sunday?

The Atlanta Falcons will square off against the Arizona Cardinals in The Dome, looking to bounce back from a loss that put all their weaknesses on display. But, the Cardinals are on a mission also. They step into the Dome looking to end their 5-game losing streak, hoping to ignite the same fire that guided them to their 4-game win streak prior to week 5. This could be another close game between two NFC opponents that are polar opposites when speaking each team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Arizona has one of the more physical defenses in the NFL. During their 4-game winning streak, they were able to constrict some of the better offenses in the league.  We are talking about a unit that was able to hold Bill Belichick’s Patriots to 18 points in New England. With that being said, this is a team that no one in the NFL should take lightly, no matter how anemic their offense is. They’re currently ranked second in pass defense and fifth in points allowed, and we’ve seen what teams that are physical up front can do to the Falcons (Carolina, Saints).  Also, don’t be decieved by how many rushing yards they give up a game (126 yards). Outside of Adrian Peterson’s monster game, neither of their other opponents starters were able to compass 100 yards rushing. So, if your team has a ‘feature’ back that it likes to pound into oblivion (hint, hint), their odds of having success are very slim.

If you want to point a finger at what is contributing to the Cardinals losing streak, look no further than the comatose offense. They can’t run the ball, they can’t pass the ball effectively due to their receivers struggling with drops, and they’re bottom-ranked in just about every offensive category. They’ve struggled moving the ball efficiently since Kolb went down with a injury, but, John Skelton is no slouch on a good day. I’ve judged teams off of weaknesses before…

You can’t afford to misjudge opponents like the Cardinals, especially coming off a bye with a coach like Ken Whisenhunt who knows how to get his team ready for big games.

I’m not saying that our defense isn’t capable of stopping an offense that stops themselves most games. They allow more sacks than any team in the league (41 at the moment), but, our D-line isn’t top notch, and Weatherspoon will miss another week due to his ankle… The Falcons need to be solid on their fundamentals (tackling, penalties) and finish plays against their running backs and Larry Fitzgerald, a reciever who could eat our secondary for brunch and dinner if we are not prepared.

If I were Mike Smith, I would look to pound the ball this game. Yeah, it’s risky considering we haven’t been successful much in the run game, but they need to know if they have a back that can do damage outside of Turner who only shows up once in a while. We know what Matt Ryan and the passing game can do, and Arizona is expecting us to air it out… We shouldn’t do what they want us to do, especially against the second-ranked pass D. To be honest, it wouldn’t stress me at all if the Falcons lose the game at the expense of discovering a back that can make plays running the football (Quizz needs open space to be effective).

We may struggle this game, especially if Julio is limited. We need all of our pieces working on offense to get ahead early against this defense. The Cardinals struggle when they play from behind, and they’ve only put up over 21 points once so far this season. At their best though, this is a team that we could struggle with, so the Mike Smith needs to make sure that the players focused…

And modest…