Arizona Cardinals (4-5 SU, 3-5-1 ATS) vs. Atlanta Falcons (8-1 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: 1PM EST, Sunday, November 18, 2012
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AZ +9.5/ATL -9.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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This Sunday at 1:00pm in Atlanta, Georgia, the Arizona Cardinals will travel to face the 8-1 Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta was the NFLs last unbeaten team until they suffered a heartbreaking 31-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints this past weekend. The “Dirty Birds” just had their best start in franchise history and is also in the midst of completing their 5th consecutive winning season while Arizona, who also started strong, has hit a rough run the last 5 weeks. The Cardinals started the season at 4-0 which included wins against New England and Philadelphia but since their 4th win, they have now lost 5 straight. Arizona does have the luxury of coming off a Bye week, while the Falcons were in a physical and mental war with the Saints. Will the bye week be enough for Arizona to hand the Falcons their 2nd straight loss?
Like I said earlier, the Arizona Cardinals came out of the gate on fire winning their first four games and appearing to be primed to go on a run to win the NFC West. In week 5, they suffered a loss to the St Louis Rams, and since that time, they haven’t found themselves on the winning side of a game yet. Not only have they not won a game, but they haven’t scored more than 17 points in a single contest while being held to just a field goal in games against the Rams and 49ers. The main reason the Cardinals are having trouble scoring is because they simply cannot run the football. They rank dead last in all of the NFL in rushing offense, averaging just a little over 76 yards per contest while giving up 126 on the ground to the opposition. As much as the NFL is becoming a pass happy league, you must have some success running the ball in order to keep the defenses honest and keep drives alive. The “eye test” tells you that Atlanta will win this game with ease but let us remember that Atlanta gets over 74% of their total yards by throwing the ball with QB Matt Ryan while Arizona actually ranks 2nd in the NFL in pass defense. If Arizona can find a way to contain this fast paced Falcons offense, they could find themselves in this game late in the second half.
Atlanta is no longer unbeaten. After a 31-27 loss in the Superdome, the birds find themselves 8-1 but still atop the NFC South as well as the entire NFC. The Falcons have had huge success all season long passing the ball averaging almost 293 yards per game in the air. Matt Ryan is many experts pick for league MVP and I have to agree at this point in the season. With weapons like Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez, Matty Ice has many options to spread the ball all over the field. As earlier stated, Arizona ranks 2nd in the league in pass defense but they haven’t faced a high powered offense like this yet, and that’s including the New England Patriots. With that said, yes, Atlanta can toss the ball better than anyone, but the run game has been suspect and is primarily the reason they aren’t 9-0 today. Two times in the 4th quarter versus the Saints, Atlanta had the ball inside the Saints 5 yard line and came away with only 3 points to show for it. After the Saints loss, Atlanta’s 5th year coach, Mike Smith confirmed that he and his offensive coordinator will go back to the lab and find a way to get the running game back on track. Smith since arriving in Atlanta has a proven track record both at home and coming off of a loss. Mike Smith is a master game planner and he has the respect of his players and staff around him. I like Atlanta to come out focused and I truly believe you will see a much better rushing attack to go along with that nasty aerial assault.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I will be totally honest about this pick. Normally, I sit and ponder on which side of a pick to get on. Not only that, but in most cases, I tend to lean opposite of the betting public. Well, in this matchup I am jumping on the public side and going hard on my decision. Too much tells me to take Atlanta here. They are a better team, they are in the dome, they are coming off a loss, and Arizona is just plain awful on the offensive side of the ball right now. Matt Ryan simply doesn’t lose in the Georgia Dome and Atlanta knows they gave the Saints the game this past weekend. Do not look for Atlanta to give away another contest. Atlanta wins this game and wins it big. I feel we may be witnessing a 38-13 type of game. PICK: ATLANTA -9.5
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