Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#267 Atlanta Falcons -3 vs.
#268 Arizona Cardinals 47
Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 4:05pm EDT
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale
Written by Ricky Dimon

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#267 Atlanta
#268 Arizona
1-4
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The Atlanta Falcons will be desperate to halt a three-game losing streak when they visit the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

From bad to worse

Atlanta is 1-4 on the season following consecutive losses to Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Houston. As a result, no head-coaching seat in the NFL is hotter than that of Dan Quinn (Jay Gruden's seat in Washington was hotter, but he got fired on Monday morning). The Falcons also lost their opener at Minnesota in routine fashion before scoring a somewhat surprising win over visiting Philadelphia. Of course, they also would have lost that one in all likelihood if Nelson Agholor had not dropped a crucial pass late in the fourth quarter. Things went from bad to worse for Quinn and company with last week's 53-32 road loss to the Texans.

“Just being here in [Arizona] is another adjustment,” Quinn said after his team went from Houston to its next destination without going home. “I think that’s a good one. They’ll have time to watch things together. They’re here at the hotel together, so it’s kind of like being in isolation where you get extra time to devote to our game to do things together. Just being here is one of those changes.”

Receiver Julio Jones and cornerback Desmond Trufant did not practice on Wednesday due to minor injuries. Safety Johnathan Cyprien, for whom the Falcons just traded with the Eagles, was placed on injured reserve earlier this week. Cyprien joins rookie offensive tackle Chris Lindstrom on the IR.

Update: (10/11): Jones is expected to play but Trufant is out with a toe injury after not practicing all week. He's considered the Falcons top corner. Cornerback Bidi Wreh-Wilson will also sit out after missing the entire week of practice due to a groin injury.

Red-zone woes

The Cardinals are coming off their first win of the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era, a 26-23 decision at Cincinnati in Week 5. They also tied Detroit in their 2019 opener before suffering a three-game skid of their own against Baltimore, Carolina, and Seattle. Things could be better for Arizona if not for some red-zone deficiencies. Kingsbury's crew ranks third-to-last in the NFL in touchdown efficiency inside opponents' 20-yard line (30 percent). Even in their victory over the Bengals, the Cardinals were an awful 1-for-6 on touchdowns inside the red zone.

"If we can get six (points) instead of three, we're blowing teams out," left guard Justin Pugh noted. "That's going to be the story until we fix it."

"We're well below average (in the red zone)," Kingsbury admitted. "I try not to look back on the record, but I just like looking at what it can be--I'm a glass-half-full guy--and where it can go. That's how I've approached that. If we're at 30 percent scoring touchdowns in the red zone and the league average is 55, if we can get up to 60 on this back half of the season then we’re rolling. I think our team understands that. It starts with me; play design and play concepts. Then things just tighten up overall as an offense.... I expect it to be better."

Running back David Johnson is still dealing with back tightness and is questionable for Sunday. On the bright side, receivers Christian Kirk (ankle) and Damiere Byrd (hamstring) practiced on Wednesday and should be good to go. If Johnson cannot go,second-year back Chase Edmonds will get the bulk of the work.

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Johnson's potential absence would hurt Arizona, but Atlanta is worse against the pass than it is against the run so the Cardinals should still have no problem moving the ball through the air. Moreover, Edmonds just went for 68 yards and a score on just eight carries against Cincinnati. In part due to a bad and banged-up offensive line, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and RB Devonta Freeman are nowhere near what they were during the NFC Championship run in 2016. The Falcons are 2-6 ATS in their last eight following a loss, 0-4 ATS in their last four on the road against opponents with losing home records, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven after rushing for less than 90 yards in their previous outing. It is also worth noting that the home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head matchups.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals

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Quinn took over defensive play-calling duties at the start of this season and so far it has been an unmitigated disaster. Atlanta's pass rush is nonexistent and the secondary once against stinks in part because safety Keanu Neal suffered another season-ending knee injury--this time around in Week 2 against Philadelphia. Murray and the Cardinals should be able to exploit both of those weaknesses. The over is 14-6-1 in the Falcons' last 21 against opponents with losing records and 8-3 in their last 11 after allowing more than 30 points in their previous outing. It is also 7-3 in the Cardinals' last 10 against opponents with losing records and 4-1 in their last five after gaining more than 350 yards of offense in their previous game. Additionally, the over is 11-3 in the last 14 meetings between the two teams and 5-1 in Atlanta's six trips to Arizona. Take the over.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining the Winners & Whiners Staff, he worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.