It is week 11 in the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons find themselves looking to bounce back from their first loss as they take on the Arizona Cardinals in the Georgia Dome. The Falcons are coming off a 31-27 loss to their bitter rival, the New Orleans Saints. The Cardinals are coming off a bye week after a five game losing streak.
Every game matters in the NFL but both of these teams really need this win. The Falcons need to win to show they have recovered from a disappointing loss where they could not get the job done in the red zone against the worst defense in the league. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are 4-5 and trying to remain relevant in the NFC.
Arizona started 4-0 just like Atlanta but then lost five straight. In the midst of that losing streak, the Cardinals also lost their starting QB Kevin Kolb to injury. As a result, an offense that was already struggling to get by became even worse under John Skelton. Speaking of offense, the Falcons are looking to right the ship offensively in the red zone, after being turned away three times from the goal line against the Saints.
Another issue the Falcons should be looking to correct is their running game, which has been suspect all season. Michael Turner rushed for 15 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 29 yards; needless to say they had a horrible day against New Orleans. Arizona is very physical on defense which should be a challenge for Atlanta but they allow 126.1 rushing yards per game. If Atlanta can get their running game going they should dispatch of the Cardinals fairly easily.
Arizona’s offense averages just 16 points a game (31st) but they have a chance to pull off the upset because Atlanta allows their opponents to hang around at home. They are also catching the Falcons coming off of a loss which is an issue Atlanta has not dealt with all season.
The key to this game for Atlanta is to play fast like they did against the Philadelphia Eagles and run the ball exceptionally well. They also need to avoid pressure from the Cardinals front seven so that Matt Ryan can maintain his rhythm with his receivers. Atlanta needs to score early and often because Arizona does not have the offensive capacity to keep up. With the win, the Falcons can stay ahead of the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers in their pursuit of home field advantage.