The last time the Arizona Cardinals played the Atlanta Falcons, it was in the 2008 NFC Wild Card game and the victory for the Red Birds catapulted them to a Super Bowl run Cards fans will never forget.
The way to beat the Falcons hasn't changed much from the last time these two teams played; you have to stop Atlanta RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White.
In the Falcons Week 1 matchup against the Steelers, Turner and White were the Falcons offense. Atlanta ran 71 offensive plays and the duo was the target on 43 of them (Turner, 19 carries/1 reception, and White, 13 catches with 23 targets).
From the Cardinals perspective -- if you want to look at it from a positive point of view -- neither were efficient. Turner averaged 2.2 yards per carry and White's 13 catches on 23 targets is a terrible percentage compared to the likes of Miles Austin, who had 10 receptions on 11 targets.
Now, the negatives.
Last week, the Cardinals let Mark Clayton, the St. Louis Rams No. 1 WR, catch 10 balls for 119 yards on 16 targets. (If you think I'm overdoing the targets statistic, I'm sorry ... I love it. It gives you a better idea of what offenses are trying to accomplish in the pass game, rather than receptions.)
Roddy White is five times the wide receiver that Mark Clayton is, so the Red Birds' secondary is going to need to lift its game to another level.
Michael Turner is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Last week's 2.2 YPC speaks more about the Steelers' run defense than the Falcons' run offense. Look for the Falcons to try and establish Turner early and often Week 2.
The key for the Cardinals stopping Turner is to get another huge game from Adrian Wilson. Wilson had the flashy numbers last week with the blocked FG, two interceptions, and a sack. This week, he won't have the stat line, but he can be the difference-maker in slowing down Turner as the eighth man in the box.
If the Cardinals control White and Turner, we will be looking at a 2-0 Arizona team with all eight home games left to be played. After a mediocre performance Week 1, this would be a huge accomplishment and the first step in capturing their third straight NFC West crown.