TV Schedule: Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium
Weather: High 87, Low 58
Line: Arizona (-2.5)
The Atlanta Falcons are struggling this season — there’s no way around it. It’s been a while since this team has struggled to reach the .500 mark, but the 2-4 team is in serious trouble of missing out on the playoffs this season. Entering the year, it was thought to be a lock that the Falcons would be a playoff team, but now they are just trying to win three games through eight weeks. Matt Ryan has seen a couple of his favorite targets go down with injuries recently as Julio Jones will be out for the year with a foot injury and Roddy White has been fighting through nagging injuries. Ryan has still passed for 1,922 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the Falcons to the third-ranked passing offense. Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas have stepped up in Jones’ absence, however, receiving for 369 yards with three touchdowns and 368 yards with one score, respectively. It looks like they will get some help in the run game, too, as Steven Jackson is back at practice.
The Arizona Cardinals are hoping to make some noise in the NFC for the first time in recent memory, but Carson Palmer will need to play a bit better than he has been in order for this team to have a chance at a playoff berth. Palmer has passed for 1,741 yards and eight touchdowns for the 17th-ranked passing offense in the league while hitting his favorite target, Larry Fitzgerald, 32 times for 422 yards and four touchdowns on the year. Michael Floyd isn’t too far behind with 31 catches for 403 yards and a touchdown on the season. The run game has struggled, which has put extra pressure on Palmer, ranking just 26th in the league in rush yards per game behind Rashard Mendenhall‘s 281 yards and three scores.
Defensively, the Cardinals are a middle-of-the-pack unit, ranking 16th in total yards allowed per game with nearly 350 and 19th in pass yards allowed per game. They do, however, excel in run-stopping ability, ranking seventh in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. The Falcons were once a solid defensive unit, but have struggled to keep the offense in the game, ranking 23rd in points allowed per game and passing yards allowed per game as well as 20th in total yards allowed per contest.
PREDICTION: Falcons 31, Cardinals 24