Atlanta Falcons: Keys To Winning Against the Cardinals


The Arizona Cardinals and their suddenly punch-less offense come to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday for a 3:05pm kickoff against the Falcons.  While this may be a game between division-leaders, injuries to Arizona’s two most important offensive pieces are the only reasons the hometown birds have a realistic shot to win.

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All-World WR Larry Fitzgerald is a game time decision with an injury to his left knee MCL while starting QB Carson Palmer is out for the season with a ruptured left ACL.  Without Fitzgerald or Palmer the Cards were only able wheeze out a field goal last week against Seattle.  Backup QB Drew Stanton was successful on just 14 of 26 passes for 149 yards, an interception, and no TDs. Atlanta Falcons fans are pining for a similar performance from Stanton against Atlanta’s NFL-worst pass defense statistically speaking.

Stanton, drafted in 2007 by Detroit, has career numbers which suggest we may see exactly what we want on Sunday: 54.7% on 338 attempts, 6.6 yards/attempt, 10:12 TD-to-INT ratio, and a QB rating of 70.2.  The 338 attempts sample size is roughly the same as QBs who have been regular starters so far this season.  Using that measuring stick Stanton would rank outside the top 30 in every one of those statistical categories.

Jun 18, 2014; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons safety Dezmen Southward (41) shown on the field during Minicamp at Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Add his four career fumbles to those twelve INTs and Stanton is apt to give the Atlanta Falcons’ defense several opportunities at creating turnovers to help out their own struggling offense.  A-town’s young secondary gobbled up three interceptions last week as the Predators (see their hair) Desmond Trufant, Kemal Ishmael, and Dezmen Southward each snagged one.  They also welcome back veteran leader safety William Moore to the secondary mix this week after being sidelined since game four.

Arizona’s defense has only given up more than 20 points in a game once this year and that was against the Denver Peyton-Mannings.  I highly doubt the Falcons offense will be able to break this 20-point barrier on Sunday.  Atlanta’s hopes of stealing this game and keeping their NFC South division lead will rest on their defense’s ability to take advantage of the turnover opportunities Stanton will likely offer them.