The Arizona Cardinals take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome at 11AM Arizona time. Both teams are coming off of losses -- Arizona having lost five straight after winning its first four games and the Falcons having lost their first game of the season a week ago. On paper, the Cardinals look overmatched and the numbers agree. Atlanta is 18-3 under Mike Smith after a loss and quarterback Matt Ryan has an incredible record at home.
How do the two teams stack up?
Offensively, they are in two different worlds. Atlanta averages 90 yards more per game than the Cardinals. The Falcons have the sixth rated offense overall in the league and the fourth best passing offense while the Cardinals have the second worst offense in the league. What both teams have in common is a struggle to run the ball effectively. Part of that for Arizona is due to injury, as their top two backs -- Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams -- are both on injured reserve. Atlanta has Michael Turner. Even still, Arizona averages just over 76 yards rushing per game and Atlanta averages over 92.
Defensively, the Cardinals match up well. what they do best is defend the pass. They have the second best pass defense in the league and ninth overall. However, they are susceptible to the run and are 24th in that category. Atlanta does not have the numbers, but do one thing well -- cause turnovers. They are a +10 in the turnover department, while the Cards are +2.
Atlanta protects Matt Ryan. They have allowed 19 sacks on the season. Arizona's offensive line has allowed 41.
Arizona actually leads in this series 14-11. The last time the two teams played was in 2010 and the Falcons jackstomped Derek Anderson and the rest of the team 41-7. The time before that was when the Cards beat Atlanta in the playoffs. In the last 10 meetings, the Falcons have won six of them.
The Falcons have no players that played for the Cardinals, but the Cards have a few that have been Falcons. Kicker Jay Feely was on the team from 2001-2004. Tackle D'Anthony Batiste played for the Falcons in 2007 and made his four other career starts for them. Reserve safety James Sanders played for Atlanta just last year.
The one major connection between the Falcons and the state of Arizona is their offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. He was the head coach at Arizona State University.