Andre Ellington #38 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball while being chased by Joplo Bartu #59 of the Atlanta Falcons at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.
Photographer: Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images
When the Cardinals (3-4) host the Falcons (2-4) on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd, the outcome of the game might easily be determined by whether the Cardinals can defend the tight end.
Overly simplistic? Maybe. Maybe not. Because if you’re trying to identify a common thread that runs through the Cards' four losses, look no further than how the tight end position has hurt the Cards' defense: 29 catches, 495 yards and 7 touchdowns total.
Have we mentioned that the Falcons feature future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who has caught 24 passes for 276 yards with two touchdowns in his last three games, including a 12-reception, 146-yard performance against New England?
In addition, Falcons' QB Matt Ryan was named NFC offensive player of the week after completing 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Buccaneers. Ryan posted a career-best 148.4 QB rating as the Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak.
Of course, that’s in stark contrast to the abysmal outing that Ryan had against the Cards' defense last season in throwing a career-high five interceptions with no touchdown passes en route to a 40.5 rating, the second-lowest single-game total of his career.
Can the Cardinals' defense replicate that performance? Can the Cardinals avoid yielding turnovers as a team? Remember, the Cards have committed 17 turnovers, second most in league. Carson Palmer’s 13 interceptions are also second most in the NFL. Palmer has thrown at least two interceptions in each of the past five games.
By the way, if Palmer can complete at least four passes to his Pro Bowl receiver, then Larry Fitzgerald will become the youngest player ever with 800 career receptions at 30 years, 57 days.
Speaking of stats, former Falcons' defender John Abraham had two sacks last week against Seattle, giving him 124 for career, most among active players.
Abraham will set his sights on Ryan, although Falcons' QB’s have been sacked just nine times this season, tied for best in the NFL.
However, Abraham isn’t looking to inflict any pent up pain on his former quarterback.
“Everybody asks me about the quarterbacks,'' Abraham said. "I love them. That's the reason I get paid. I just don't like the guys in front of him, the tight end, the tackles.''
Or maybe the Cards should just hope that current trends continue in Week #8, considering that Atlanta is 0-2 on road this season, while Arizona is 2-1 at home.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Click on the region names in the map below to see news from that region.
Things To Do
RIGHT NOW: Top Stories
The weather forecast is looking nice and cool as we start the work week. Warmer afternoon highs on the way by Wednesday.
The Peoria Police Department is using volunteers to help cut back on holiday crime by handing out report cards in busy parking lots.
So much for that sore right elbow. Carson Palmer didn't throw a pass in practice all last week, then completed practically every one he tried Sunday.
Dozens of entries with hundreds of thousands of lights brightened the streets of Phoenix Saturday when the APS Fiesta of Light Electric Light Parade returned for the 27th straight year.