Hosting the Arizona Cardinals (4-5) in the Georgia Dome looks to be a perfect springboard for the Atlanta Falcons (8-1) to get back to their winning ways.
The Falcons fell from the ranks of the unbeaten last Sunday when they fell to the New Orleans Saints 31-27 in the Mercedes-Benz Dome. Matt Ryan had a career day, throwing for 411 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception on 34/52 passing, but the Falcons were unable to run nor could they stop the run.
After storming out the a 4-0 start, the Cardinals have cooled down significantly: they’ve lost five games in a row. The Cardinals’ hot start was due in large part to their stingy defense. Arizona has the league’s fifth-ranked scoring defense, second-ranked pass defense, and ninth-ranked overall defense.
However, Arizona is putrid on offense. They’re ranked second-to-last in points scored, second-to-last in overall offense, and last in rushing yards.
Although the Cardinals are coming off a bye week, they have to travel from west to east – a trip that works for the team on the East Coast.
If there’s a game for Atlanta’s defense to rebound, it’s this one. Arizona’s only offensive weapon is Larry Fitzgerald, but he’s been mostly negated because of the poor play of John Skelton; Kevin Kolb is still recovering from a chest injury.
The Cardinals’ offensive line have also given up 41 sacks. That bodes well for a Falcons defense that has only notched two sacks in the past two games.
The Falcons were unable to get the running game going last week against a Saints run defense that was ranked last in the league. They’ll have another chance against the Cardinals’ 24th-ranked run defense.
Even though the Cardinals have a stout pass defense, Ryan should be able have success. The Falcons’ offense has been tough to stop through the air: Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Roddy White all have at least 44 receptions and 600 yards.
Arizona couldn’t be facing Atlanta on a worst week: Atlanta hasn’t lost back-to-back games since Weeks 13 and 14 in 2009.
The last time the two teams met was in 2010. The Falcons clobbered the Cardinals 41-7, and Ryan finished 21/32 for 225 yards and three touchdowns. I expect a similar score in favor of the Falcons.
Points Scored: 27.4 (7th)
Total Offense: 385.2 (6th)
Passing Offense: 292.6 (4th)
Rushing Offense: 92.7 (24th)
Points Allowed: 19.3 (6th)
Total Defense: 365.6 (20th)
Passing Defense: 235.8 (19th)
Rushing Defense: 129.8 (25th)
Points Scored: 16.0 (31st)
Total Offense: 295.4 (31st)
Passing Offense: 219.2 (20th)
Rushing Offense: 76.2 (32nd)
Points Allowed: 19.2 (5th)
Total Defense: 320.7 (9th)
Passing Defense: 194.6 (2nd)
Rushing Defense: 126.1 (24th)