Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
The keys to ending the Cards' five-game skid.
Can the Arizona Cardinals actually win this game on the road in the early time slot against the Atlanta Falcons? It looks like it will be impossible, considering the Falcons' success after a loss and the fact that Matt Ryan is almost unbeatable at home. However, this game actually is a good machup for the Cards if they can do a few things.
These are what the Cardinals must do to get the win.
Don't turn the ball over!
This is probably the key to every team in every game, but it is crucial to the Cardinals. Atlanta has a +10 turnover margin on the season. John Skelton has been picked off in 12 straight starts. This is not an ideal mix. If Arizona's struggling offense wants to have a chance to win, they cannot give away possessions.
Stick to the running game
The Cardinals already are at a disadvantage in the running game because they are down two running backs. They rely on LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has been very good and okay and bad in games he has started. But Atlanta allows almost 130 rushing yards a game. Throw in the fact that the offensive line has given up 41 sacks this season, it is more reason to do all they can to be successful on the ground. If they can have some success, play action will open up, the edge rushers will not be able to "pin their ears back" and go straight for the sack and it will ideally give the defense more rest, as they have been on the field too long the past few weeks.
Patrick Peterson gets back to shutdown status
He has not given up many yards on the season. In fact, according to PFF, he has given up only 323 yards the entire season on his watch. He has, though, allowed four touchdowns in the last three games after not getting scored upon before that. He has a tough matchup today. He will cover either Roddy White or Julio Jones (if Jones plays).
Find Rob Housler
The Falcons have not done well against tight ends this season. If Todd Heap magically plays today, he can be a factor. However, the guy that John Skelton needs to find in the middle of the field is Housler. His speed and hands will be a problem if he can get the ball in his hands.
Arizona has had success when getting points on the board early. Then the defense can take over. The issue is that they have not been putting points on the board in the first quarter. They need to get a lead or they end up giving up on the running game, which makes the offense one-dimensional, which causes more sacks, which leads to more bad stuff.
This will not be an easy task, especially since the Cardinals seem to have forgotten how to win. A season ago, they went from 1-6 to 8-8. They are 4-5 now. A win would get things back on track nicely.