Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Cardinals Hope To Revive Season Against Falcons

After tough loss in Minnesota, team hits the road again for pivotal clash


Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, who had this strip-sack of Sam Bradford last week, hopes to get consistent pressure on Matt Ryan.

ATLANTA – The nurse has the pen hovering over the clipboard, awaiting the official time of death.

Can the Cardinals delay her and revive their season?

After a demoralizing loss in Minnesota last week, a season which began with Super Bowl expectations is already trending toward its end with six games still remaining.

The Seahawks have all but wrapped up the NFC West, and if the Cardinals (4-5-1) fall two games under .500 against the Falcons on Sunday, their odds to make the postseason will be slight.

While many outside the organization have waved the white flag, coach Bruce Arians was encouraged by lively practices this week. The Cardinals know their season is on the line, and Arians said the sense of urgency is palpable.

"If you don't have (that sense) right now, you don't belong in this business," Arians said, "and you damn sure don't belong in this locker room."

Arians was hospitalized early in the week for precautionary reasons, and while he downplayed any health concerns upon his return to work, it's more hardship in a season which was expected to be much smoother. His players aren't using it as a rallying cry, instead motivated to win in Atlanta because the season is in peril.

The Cardinals will have three central tests on Sunday.

The first is stopping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Atlanta's prolific offense. The Falcons are averaging a league-high 32.0 points per game this season, and a Cardinals defense ranked No. 1 in total defense must play to that level for a shot at the upset.

The second is to clean up special teams, a unit which has had a variety of problems this year, the most recent of which was giving up a 104-yard kickoff return touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson last week.

The third is to keep Carson Palmer clean. The Cardinals quarterback was pressured on 62.8 percent of his dropbacks against the Vikings, more duress than any signal-caller had previously faced this season, per Pro Football Focus.

At this point, the offensive line is the biggest positional concern on the team, as Arians and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin must find players who can hold up while injuries mount and ineffectiveness becomes too common.

"We'll have five of them out there, for sure," Arians said.

It helps the Cardinals that the wild card standings remain muddled. Washington sits in the second wild card slot, but if the Cardinals can upset the Falcons, they can surpass the Redskins with a head-to-head win next week.

There are other teams in between, but a win on Sunday takes the Cardinals off life support and puts them squarely back in the postseason chase.

"I know people don't think that we have a shot to get to the playoffs," Palmer said. "But I do."

Immediately after the loss to Minnesota, the Cardinals stressed the season wasn't over.

Mathematically, the team are still has a legitimate postseason path, but it needs to start making some progress. The Cardinals have consistently shown they can play with good teams, but have yet to beat one.

The clash with the Falcons is another opportunity, and one they cannot afford to let slip.

"Guys know the predicament we're in right now," safety Tony Jefferson said. "We know what's ahead of us. We know what we're facing. There's a little pep in our step everywhere we go, even in the locker room. We've just got to win. That's the mindset of everybody. We don't care what the score is. Just win."

Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.