Atlanta’s first game out of the bye is against the Arizona Cardinals. This looked like a definite loss at the beginning of the season unless the injury-prone Carson Palmer couldn’t make it. Things have changed. We’re now at 6-4 and Arizona is 4-5-1.
What’s gone wrong? Bad special teams coaching cost them in a couple games, but the main issue is that they haven’t been able to protect Carson Palmer and even accounting for that, Palmer appears to have gone over the hill a couple years early. Arizona’s defense is still good, though.
Basically, the Cards have almost become the Rams. Good defense but lacking offensively. Divisional team; just as the Rams have a three-win streak on the Seahawks, Arizona didn’t lose to the leaders of the West at home, may not in Seattle, swept the 49ers, yet are a game under .500. Technically, two games. Right or wrong, ties more or less count as losses in the NFL standings.
I’m fairly confident. I probably won’t be confident in later games if we lose this one, but for now, I am. I think we can get a pass rush on that offensive line. And although they are the top-ranked defense in the league, we got respectable points on Denver and Seattle. Additionally, when you factor in the large number of non-offensive touchdowns and short fields that the Cards’ offense and special teams have allowed opponents to get, the stats may be skewed.
There are two difficulties we may yet have. Arizona’s pass rush is lethal no matter how you slice it. And one weapon their offense has had is David Johnson. If the linebackers and defensive tackles are as bad at stopping the run as they were in Philadelphia, we’re in trouble. Protecting Matt Ryan is crucial. But one thing we have going for us is that Arizona’s not that good against the run. Devonta Freeman’s been overshadowed by Tevin Coleman (despite his recent injury), but if he wants to make sure he’s still the starter next year, this is the game to do it in.
My guess is we win. Coleman and Desmond Trufant are back in practice. Being able to spare a safety against the run and Matt Ryan having his escape hatch from pressure back (Coleman) should prevent a repeat of Philly… I hope. RISE UP!!!