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Friday Five: Cardinals At Falcons


A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Falcons game Sunday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.:

A Card on the ground could be worth two with a Bush

It's questionable how much new running back Michael Bush will be able to add to a running game that has simply not produced enough the last three games. But he's another component during a week in which the Cards need their run game to get healthy. The Falcons give up more than 125 rushing yards a game, 24th in the league, and are vulnerable in that area. If the Cards aren't going to run it this week, with the Chiefs and Rams and Seahawks and 49ers left on the schedule, they might not run it at all.

The call of the end zone

The Cardinals have done enough offensively this season to win, and in the end, that's all that matters. But the Cards haven't cracked the goal line since the first quarter of the Lions' win, and that's now spanning seven quarters. Coach Bruce Arians said he is not concerned, and being fair, that's been against two top defenses in Detroit and Seattle. With the defense they can put on the field, the Cards don't need much. Three touchdowns would be plenty. Two might even be enough if they can mix in a couple of field goals. But more points are a must.

Matty Ice's worst nightmare

The last two games the Cardinals have played the Falcons they have made the life of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan pretty miserable. They intercepted him four times in a win last season. In 2012, the Cardinals picked him off five times, even though the Falcons had a better team (and eventually won the game somehow.) Each game had different defenders and a different defensive coordinator, but the Cards have confidence against "Matty Ice." They'll need to play well again.

Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Falcons

Life without Fitz again?

Larry Fitzgerald likely will be a game-day decision again with his knee sprain, but there is the chance he will have to sit out a second straight game. The Cardinals must be ready to deal with such a thing. It wasn't a big deal last week but then it was, missing not only Fitz's talent but the emotion with which he carries the offense. He has become much more of an emotional touchpoint in recent seasons, and without that, the Cards felt a little rudderless. Someone would have to pick up the slack if Fitzgerald cannot go.

The business of playing a sub-.500 team

The Falcons are in first place despite a 4-7 record. The Cardinals are having to travel across the country. Atlanta has played in a lot of close games. Raiders-Chiefs, Steelers-Buccanners, these games happen in the NFL. All that said, the Cardinals have to come away with a win. They are a better team than the Falcons this season. Sometimes, it's about imposing that will. If the Cardinals believe they are the best in the NFC West – which they deserve to believe right now – they make sure they win the games they should win. 

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