Week 11: Arizona Cardinals At Atlanta Falcons
- QuarterbackThe Cardinals hope Kevin Kolb (ribs) can return to the lineup, but they have noassurances. Kolb was off to a decent start with the Cardinals but he has limited mobility and is a target for any defensive line. John Skelton is also slow in the pocket. The Cardinals make the situation worse for their quarterbacks with poor offensive line play.Matt Ryan had the Falcons in position to take a late lead in their Week 10 loss to the Saints, but he could not lead Atlanta to a game-winning score. Nevertheless, Ryan has had a sensational season and is one of the leading MVP candidates in the league. Ryan has quickness in the pocket, reads defenses well and is an accurate passer.
- OffenseThe running game is not operating at an acceptable level for the Cardinals. LaRod Stephens-Howling and Ryan Williams are both averaging less than 3.0 yards per carry. The Cardinals’ best offensive weapon is Larry Fitzgerald, but it’s very difficult for him to do his job when he is the primary focus of opposing defenses on nearly every play.The Falcons have a plethora of weapons and Julio Jones just may be the best. Jones has game-breaking speed, has the strength to win the battle with defensive backs and plays with maximum desire. Roddy White is one of the most dependable pass catchers in the league. Running back Michael Turner does enough to take some pressure off Ryan and his crew of receivers.
- DefenseThe Cardinals will come after you on the defensive side of the ball. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington is having an excellent season. He leads the Cardinals with 75 tackles and he also has a team-leading 8.0 sacks. Defensive end Calais Campbell can also get after the quarterback and has 3.5 sacks. Defensive back Patrick Peterson is one of the best cover men in the NFL.The Falcons should be able to dominate in this game against the Cardinals’ struggling offense. After lining up against the explosive Saints, this will be a much easier assignment for head coach Mike Smith’s defense. Look for middle linebacker Akeem Dent to assert himself. He had 9 tackles vs. the Saints and moves well.
- Special TeamsJay Feely has a big leg and can hit field goals of up to 60 yards. However, he may not have the consistency that head coach Ken Whisenhunt wants. Peterson is a major threat on special teams because of his speed and instincts as a special teamer.The Falcons are going to make it difficult for opponents to make big plays against them in the return game. They play will speed and discipline as special teamers stay in their lanes and are rarely out of position. Matt Bryant has made 22-of-25 field goal attempts this season.
Now that the Falcons have tasted defeat for the first time, they can get back to playing solid football and going after the No. 1 seed in the NFC. This should be an excellent opportunity for the win as the Cardinals don’t have the offensive weapons to threaten the Falcons on their home turf.