The Arizona Cardinals, current holders of a five-game losing streak, look to win a tough game on the road against the Atlanta Falcons (8-1) in order to save their season. On the other side, the Falcons lost their first game of the season last week to the New Orleans Saints and hope to gain some sort of vengeance by defeating a reeling Arizona team.
So what must the Cardinals do in order to pull off a surprise victory?
For starters, containing the passing attack led by Matt Ryan will be important. That starts by getting a good pass rush on him. Calais Campbell will likely be out for this game with a calf injury, leaving the Cardinals with even less pass rushing options than they had before. Their pass defense currently falls in the bottom ten, but due to a (sometimes) strong secondary, they allow the second fewest pass yards per game at 194.6.
Speaking of the secondary, how will star Patrick Peterson match up against Falcons wide receiver Roddy White? Given that White typically lines up on the right side as the RWR and Peterson is usually to the left as a LCB, the two figure to see each other quite a bit on Sunday. Peterson will have to try and contain White's more than 15 yards per catch in order to win this game.
It will be interesting to see what kind of game plan the Cardinals use coming out of their bye week. Will they try to run the ball against the Falcons, forcing them to use heavier packages along their defensive line? Or do they put the ball in the hands of John Skelton and ask him to make a play? If that is the case, Nate Potter and Bobby Massie, the two tackles for the Cardinals, will need to step up and have big days against John Abraham and Kroy Biermann.
If the Cardinals can manage to do at least a couple of these things, they may be taking a flight out of Atlanta with an unsuspecting victory. If not, it's back to the drawing board once again.