The game this weekend in Atlanta should be a winnable game for the Arizona Cardinals, but, as it should be, the way everyone talks about the Falcons, you would think they were a juggernaut.
The big theme is they are in first place and they have a ton to play for. Head coach Bruce Arians said because Atlanta is currently in the lead in the NFC South, "when you take away the records, it's a big game," referring to how people outside the organization should see the matchup. The team itself already thinks "it's a big game anyway because it' sthe next one."
Atlanta has the league's 32nd-ranked defense in the league. But Arians had positive things to say.
"Their defense, their front seven is extremely physical and I don't go by statistics because a lot of things happene in September and early October that skew your statistics as far as where you are ranked," he said. "I just watched the tape of the last four games and they look pretty damn good and pretty stout."
Arians likes the size and grit the Atlanta defensive line has.
Atlanta gave up 419 yards per game over the first six games of the season. Over the last five, that number is down to 399 per game.
Over the first seven games, they gave up over 28 points a game. The last four, which is the tape Arians watched, the Falcons have given up under 21 per game -- a touchdown per game improvement.
Quarterback Drew Stanton said the Atlanta front "can get after you" and that Atlanta "is solid in the back end."
"They kind of mix up their looks," he said. "They're really good at disguising their stuff."
Arians said the Cardinals defense would "have to be ready for the no-huddle tempo stuff" Atlanta plays. The defense will need to come out strongly because the Falcons are a "notoriously very fast-starting offense."
There will be "exciting matchup" to watch, according to Arians. That would be Falcons receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White up against Cardinals cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. "Julio's one of the best there is and Roddy's been there for a long time," said Arians, referring to both receivers as "Pro Bowl guys."