Hello. Sorry, but I’m a little rushed today. I just posted a new column on Dawgmania in the BCS, following losses by Kansas State and Oregon late Saturday night. Now it’s time to switch gears to the pro team.
The Falcons play host to Arizona today. This is kind of a big game. I know that sounds strange for an 8-1 team with a three-game lead in the NFC South, but consider the circumstances.
They are coming of their first loss of the season, an emotional defeat to rival New Orleans (31-27), a game in which they felt they should have won (largely because of six red zone possessions that resulted in only three touchdowns). A loss to Arizona wouldn’t devastate the team but it has the potential to make things uncomfortable in the NFC South, with three straight divisional games to follow (at Tampa; home against New Orleans; at Carolina).
The questions about the Falcons now are the same questions we knew before the season: Is their running game and their run defense good enough to compete for a title? The run defense played better in the second half at New Orleans after a miserable first half, but the absence of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (who will be out again today) continues to hurt the front seven.
The principles of the team’s short-yardage running game have taken a lot of heat, from the offensive line to Michael Turner. It will be interesting to see how effectively Atlanta can run against Arizona because the Cardinals are physical up front.
That said, this is a game the Falcons should win. They can score (NFL’s No. 6 team in offense, No. 8 in points) and Arizona can’t (No. 31 in offense and No. 31 in points). At least, that has been the case up until now.
One key injury note: wide receiver Julio Jones (right ankle) is playing today.
That’s it for now. The venting lines are open. Any new thoughts on the Falcons moving forward?
I’m here to serve . . .
By Jeff Schultz
Recent ramblings from the digital jukebox