The Minnesota defense took advantage of a disheartened Cardinals team last week by dominating on defense and on special teams with two return touchdowns of over 100 yards. Xavier Rhodes had two picks including one that he took coast to coast and later the special teams of Arizona gave up a 104 yard kickoff return. Now they prepare for possibly the best passing offense in the game of football right now.
Who Can Stop Julio?
Julio Jones is an absolute freak of nature as a football player. At 6′ 3” and 220 pounds he is by far the toughest matchup for any defensive back in the game of football. He has a great ability to adjust to the ball at any angle, has the speed to make an overthrown ball become a perfect pass and the balance to shake off any tackler that thinks they can stop him by themselves. Already this year he has over 1,000 yards receiving with just over 60 catches. The corner likely to see Jones the most in this game will be the All-Pro in Patrick Peterson and he may even get some help back this week with the possible return of Tyrann Mathieu at not only the safety position but also the slot corner as well. Wherever Jones decides to line up he will likely see 21 lined up across from him with an extra safety over the top to prevent him from taking advantage of Peterson’s lack of size. While another 300 yard game seems unlikely, Jones could still prove to be a little more than the Cardinals are ready to handle.
Light Still Visible In the Tunnel
For as badly as the Cardinals have underperformed at this point in the season the fact is they still have hope to reach the postseason this year. As of right now the wildcard spots will most likely be taken by the NFC East and that likely won’t be changing anytime soon. For Arizona they are three games back of the Seahawks who still have a tough travel schedule in the next three weeks with a cross country trip to Tampa Bay, then at home against Carolina and then a trip out east again to face off against the Packers. The game against Atlanta has Arizona against the 29th scoring defense in the league and in the next four weeks the Cardinals only face a top 15 scoring defense once against the Miami Dolphins at home come week 14. If the Cardinals offense gets together to find each other in the gameplan and Seattle suffers from the extreme jet lag their travel schedule might do to them the Cardinals are likely back into the race for the NFC West title. Wins are a must now though, as another tie would likely kill their chances of getting back into the thick of the postseason push.
Palmer Searching For Himself
Watching Carson Palmer this season would make anyone wonder if he really had the kind of passing numbers he did last season. He has been erratic, terrible in the pocket and worst of all unable to find any kind of deep passes this year. Palmer’s average yard per pass this season stands at just 7.2 where as last year he was sitting at a lovely 8.7. While his deep ball has all but disappeared this year he has found a strange magnetism for pass rushers. Already this year he has been sacked 30 times, five more than he was last year and nearing his career high in that stat when he first joined the Cardinals in 2013 when the team watched him get planted 41 times. At this point in his career Palmer cannot afford to be taking the kind of beating he is getting right now and expect to last even into December, let alone January. The team has to find a better way of keeping the jersey on number 9 clean during the game and give him time to try and burn Atlanta’s pass defense which ranks dead last in the league.
Prediction: Arizona 16 – Atlanta 31
The game will be televised on Fox this Sunday at 11:00 AM from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.