The Falcons are undefeated no more. On Sunday, the 1972 Dolphins team was able to pop the corks as the Saints managed to defeat their division rivals in New Orleans 31-27, giving the Falcons an 8-1 record and their first loss of the season. So what does that mean for the Cardinals?
First, this game will come down to the performance of Matt Ryan. And if the past 9 games are any indication, he is going to be pretty dominant. Even in their first loss, Ryan threw for 411 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez may be the best overall receiving unit in the NFL. Gonzalez can still move the chains at this stage in his career and White and Jones both create mismatches no matter where they line up on the field.
And if the passing game is in a slump, don't think the Falcons can't turn to their run game. Jacquizz Rodgers and the always reliable Michael Turner did not play too well against a poor Saints defense on Sunday, combining for just 44 yards on the ground, but that could always change against the Cardinals. The Cards allow over 126 rushing yards per game, good for the 24th ranked run D in the league.
Some good news for the Cardinals is that Atlanta only recorded one sack against the Saints. While the Saints have a good offensive line and Drew Brees is one of the best pocket passers in the league, one sack is a bad sign for a defense that has lost some of its key players either through free agency or injury. If the Cardinals' tackle play can be somewhat decent next Sunday, they might be able to sneak away with a win.
It will be interesting to see how the Falcons respond coming off of their first loss on the season. There is no doubt that they will take the field, back at home in Atlanta, looking to prove something against a team with five consecutive losses. On the flip side, how will the Cardinals play coming out of the bye? They are historically bad since Ken Whisenhunt took over, going 1-4 coming out of the bye under his reign.
Overall, this could be an interesting game, but it could also be one that gets out of control very quickly. What defense for the Cards will show up? The one that shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots in week 2 or the one that let former MVP Aaron Rodgers push them around in Green Bay?