ATLANTA, GA- The Arizona Cardinals (3-4) had a few extra days to prepare for the Atlanta Falcons (2-4) while licking their wounds after a 34-22 loss to the Seattle Seahawks (6-1) on Thursday night.
The Cardinals now find themselves in a must win situation after losing their third division game, putting them at (0-3) in the NFC West. With a rough schedule the Cardinals have pulled through the first seven weeks admirably. In three of their four losses the team has performed rather sloppy on the offensive side of the ball.
The Falcons are also in a frying pan of their own as they are third in the conference, only ahead of the winless Buccaneers. With the New Orleans Saints (6-1) dominating and the Carolina Panthers (3-3) gaining momentum and putting at least 30 points on the board for each win the Falcons are in a deep hole. Their own division rivals possess the one trait that owner Arthur Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff wanted; explosiveness.
The Cardinal’s run defense has been stingy not allowing 100 yards rushing until they’ve faced Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch who happen to be a pair of excellent running backs on quality teams that are effective at running the ball no matter the opponent. An important figure on the Cardinal’s linebacker corp. is also someone Atlanta is very familiar with.
John Abraham’s talents are being relied upon heavily now that his new team has lost the services of starting outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho to season ending injuries. The 35-year-old Abraham played 65 of 67 defensive snaps during the Seattle game, he would go on to record his first two sacks of the season as well.
It has been reported by various news outlets that Steven Jackson intends to play this Sunday. Coming off of a hamstring issue I am quietly tempering any expectations I have if he does indeed return during week eight. Remember that word that Arthur Blank and Dimitroff wanted this team to be associated with? It was explosive, or any conjugation of that quality. Steven Jackson coming back is a positive sign, but it probably won’t provide that spark that the team needs in order to break through the defensive line.
Ultimately, the game will again come down to the quarterbacks and wide receivers. Considering that even though Carson Palmer is an able quarterback, I wouldn’t trust him enough to toss me my keys. He has thrown eight touchdown passes compared to his 13 interceptions. If somebody in the Falcons secondary doesn’t get at least one interception then I’ll be very disappointed. At this point it’s expected, every single team has picked him off at least once this season.
What to expect
Expect to see points, a lot of them. As I stated before, both teams will take to the air due to the lack of effective running games and the availability of quality receivers. Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd give the Cardinals an advantage in that position. Harry Douglas is still a reliable option but I expect his day to be hampered by the attention he’s going to get from Patrick Peterson all day long.
The next men up to make some plays are Darius Johnson and Drew Davis. Last week Davis made an awesome one-handed grab for 24 yards reminding Atlanta that he’s actually still on the team. Darius Johnson made two catches for the same amount of yardage as Davis. In order to win this weekend I expect one of these two players will have to emerge from the pack and take that WR2 spot so Douglas can continue his production until Roddy White gets back.