Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/16/12
The Arizona Cardinals were on the decline going into their bye week, they had just lost five straight games and desperately needed a week off to regroup.  The Falcons on the other hand just suffered their first loss of the year to the hot New Orleans Saints.  If handled correctly, bye weeks can be a teams best friend in helping the players rest and recover, and giving the coaches extra time to game plan.  This game should be interesting and here are my three predictions for the Sunday afternoon match-up between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals.The Cardinals' secondary gives Matt Ryan trouble and shuts down Julio Jones. The Cardinals have one of the best pass defenses in the league and coming off their bye week should be prepared for Ryan and Company.  The Cardinals' free safety, Kerry Rhodes, has really stepped up this year and teamed up with another veteran, Adrian Wilson, to cause havoc for opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinals did a good job stopping Tom Brady earlier in the year and I fully expect them to do the same with Ryan.The Falcons' defense contains the passing attack of the Cardinals, but will allow big yardage on the ground. This is perhaps my boldest predictions because of how incredibly bad the Cardinals' offensive line and running game have been this year. Only once this year have the Cardinals had a player rush for over 100 yards in a game.  However, the Falcons' run defense is just as poor as the Cardinals' run game, but one team has to win this match-up. The Falcons' defense gives up an average of almost 130 rushing yards per game and have to face off with the Cardinals' streaky running back LaRod Stephens-Howling this week who I predict will have his second 100-yard rushing game of the season.The Falcons will barely edge out the Cardinals for the win on Sunday. No matter which way I look at this game, it just seems impossible for the Cardinals to win. The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive scoring units in the league as they average a measly 16 points per game, second worst in the league.  Although Matt Ryan will have some trouble passing vs. the Cardinals' defense, the Falcons have too many offensive weapons for the Cardinals to stop them all and I fully expect the Falcons to pull out a close victory on Sunday.
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