The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Falcons, Pass to Run

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Right now, the Falcons' rushing attack is far more dangerous for a few reasons. First, Atlanta's passing attack is actually more effective through Week 16, according to our DVOA Rankings, than any other in the NFL. Arizona's aerial attack ranks eighth, and their corresponding running game ranks 29th in DVOA. The Cardinals have been vulnerable down the stretch because their offense is one-dimensional, and therefore beatable. How do you shot down Atlanta? If you stick eight in the box against Michael Turner, Matt Ryan will blast you with his efficiency. If you plat it safe against Ryan and Roddy White, the two-headed backfield monster of Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood bring a physicality and forcefulness that the Cardinals can't match. Their defense isn't good or disciplined enough to take what the Falcons bring to this game.

The contrast in effectiveness has been especially apparent in the last month. After a 7-3 start, Arizona has suffered through a 2-4 stretch run in which they've been far more susceptible to their own mistakes than they've been able to benefit from their abilities. On the other hand, the Falcons have gone through that same late stretch at 5-1, with only a four-point loss to the Saints to mar their momentum. They've beaten the Panthers, Chargers, and Vikings - all playoff teams - and the Buccaneers, who lost their own 2-seed shot with a late dive.

This will be a road game for the Falcons, but they have what it takes to end the Cardinals' season much more than Arizona looks like a playoff winner.

By Doug Farrar  |  December 29, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Falcons: Vulnerable Through the Air? | Next: Hotlanta

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