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Falcons Look To Get Back On Track Against Cardinals – Week 12 Preview

Atlanta Falcons NFL Bounce Atlanta Falcons via Flickr



The Atlanta Falcons look to Bounce back, as they host the Banged-up Arizona Cardinals

Having had the bye week to recover from a physical defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons welcome the Arizona Cardinals to the Georgia Dome in week 12.

The Falcons have a one game lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the top of the NFC South, holding a 6-4 record.

Following on from an NFC Championship appearance in 2015, the Cardinals were full of hope but have disappointed on their way to a 4-5-1 record. They’re currently 2nd in the NFC West but, with the Seattle Seahawks already having won 7 games, the Cardinals will need to start winning sooner rather than later if they have any chance of making the playoffs.

Falcons News

The bye week came at a good time for the Falcons, who now welcome back running back Tevin Coleman, whose hamstring injury against the San Diego Chargers in week 7 has caused him to miss the last month of football. Coleman’s game-breaking speed was a huge factor in the Falcons’ offense taking the league by storm and, when combined with Devonta Freeman, the team can boast one of the best running back tandems in the NFL.

While cornerbacks Jalen Collins and Robert Alford weren’t challenged by an Eagles team that did the majority of its damage through the center of the field, the return of Desmond Trufant is cause for celebration. While the Cardinals’ passing game hasn’t been firing on all cylinders, Larry Fitzgerald remains one of the top slot receivers in the league and the speed of Michael Floyd, John Brown and JJ Nelson can’t be ignored.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jacob Tamme has been one of more underrated tight ends in the league since joining the Falcons and the move to send him to injured reserve will leave Matt Ryan without one of his favorite targets. Tamme became a safety blanket for Ryan after a year of relying on Levine Toilolo at tight end following Tony Gonzalez’s retirement and his absence will leave a lot of responsibility on rookie Austin Hooper.

Cardinals News

Falcons fans who look at the Cardinals’ injury report will see a couple of familiar names in linebacker Joplo Bartu, who spent three seasons in Atlanta, and defensive tackle Corey Peters, who was with the team from 2010 until 2014. While neither has been a huge part of the Cardinals’ plans, the opportunity to see former players is always welcome.

Tyrann Mathieu has been listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. The cornerback/safety hybrid is one of the best defensive players in the league when healthy and the Cardinals are a worse team without him. Given that his athleticism is such a huge part of his game, any injuries could limit his effectiveness, even if he does play.

The Cardinals could be dealt a further blow if Deone Bucannon, the man who the team refers to as a “money linebacker” is unable to play. Bucannon has been limited with an ankle injury and the Falcons’ chances of exploiting the middle of the field will be a lot better if he’s not at 100%.

Looking ahead

The Cardinals haven’t been playing particularly well recently but have still shown the ability to cause problems. David Johnson is arguably the best dual-threat running back in the league, capable of putting teams to the sword on the ground as well as in the receiving game. The Falcons were unable to contain Ryan Mathews before the bye week and Johnson is a far better player, even if the Cardinals’ offensive line has had their fair share of struggles.

Carson Palmer is a far cry from the player that he once was, but he’s been finding wide receiver Michael Floyd more often in recent weeks and the evergreen Larry Fitzgerald is still capable of causing problems.

The Falcons will look to exploit a leaky Cardinals offensive line, which has allowed 31 sacks on the season, the 3rd most in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings were able to hit Palmer time and time again and Vic Beasley will hope to add to his 9.5 sacks for the season and, in the process, become the first Falcon to register double digit sacks since John Abraham in 2012.

After only scoring 15 points against the Eagles in their last outing, the Falcons’ offense will be looking to prove that they are still the best in the league. Matt Ryan is still very much in the MVP consideration and, while he would no doubt take a victory even if he performed poorly, he will be keen to remind fans and voters just how well he is capable of playing.

The marquee match-up of the day will undoubtedly be wide receiver Julio Jones squaring up to cornerback Patrick Peterson. Two of the elite talents at their respective positions, Jones racked up 189 yards and a touchdown after being called out by Peterson the last time the two teams met and, despite Peterson keeping his opinions to himself in the build up to this game, Jones will be keen to show that he still can get the better of him.