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 worseAtlanta 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 woesThe 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."
Kyler Murray has set an NFL record for the most completions in a player's first five career games with 126.— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) October 10, 2019
He also joins Andrew Luck as the only players in NFL history with 20+ completions in each of their first five games. pic.twitter.com/oaj4mxV1qO
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.
The Atlanta Falcons are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last six overall
- 5-16 ATS in their last 21 road games
- 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games against teams with losing records
The Arizona Cardinals are:
- 3-1-1 ATS in their last five October games
- 3-1-1 ATS in their last five Week 6 games