After losing five straight games, the Arizona Cardinals had a much needed bye week.
Now back in action, the Cardinals are looking to end that skid against the Atlanta Falcons on the road.
The Cardinals' last trip to Atlanta was a 41-7 blowout in 2010 and the team has not won in the Georgia dome since 1993.
The Falcons are coming off a disappointing loss to a New Orleans Saints, but their 8-1 record is still best in the NFL.
Led by quarterback Matt Ryan, their offense ranks sixth in the NFL with 385.2 yards per game.
Friday, November 16
"These guys are so close and moving in the right direction that we'll make a determination as late as we possibly can," Mike Smith said. "We can do it as late as we possibly can. They are working to get back. We are hoping that they'll continue to progress tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday morning."
Rather than a fattened and contented calf, the Arizona Cardinals may encounter slightly more resistance when they visit the Atlanta Falcons a week after the hosts suffered their initial loss of 2012.
Arizona's impressive secondary goes beyond their cornerbacks. Tony Gonzalez thinks their safety duo of Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes is the best the Falcons faced all season
"Everybody's going to nitpick," Turner said on Thursday. "We're a different team this year, obviously, with philosophies and things like that, but I mean we're 8-1. That's the bottom line. To get Ws. We're not worried about it."
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who suffered an ankle injury against the New Orleans Saints, did not practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
"They are all doing well," defensive line coach Ray Hamilton said Thursday. "They have been practicing all year, but they haven't been practicing on our side of the ball a whole lot because they've been doing mostly scout-team stuff."
Thursday, November 15
The Atlanta Falcons have the best record in the NFC and are tied with the Houston Texans for the best record in the NFL. Will both teams continue as the best in their conferences - and advance to the Super Bowl? Here's what the oddsmakers think.
Three times the Falcons went for it on third-and-short, three times they failed, and the repercussions rang in their ears throughout last offseason.
Those were the lasting images from their blowout playoffs defeat at the Giants in January. There were echoes when the Falcons flopped on short-yardage runs during their 28-27 loss at New Orleans on Sunday.
The Falcons have flaws, but so does every team, and they're not going away. This is the NFL. Rosters don't morph significantly during the season. The league has a salary cap. There is little roster flexibility. Unlike baseball, there aren't pyrotechnics at the trade deadline. Once a season starts, the best a team can hope for is that a backup evolves and contributes more than expected, or a player released by another team can fill a void, or that drop-kicking a high-profile veteran like Edwards gets everybody's attention.
The Falcons have an idea how Arizona will defend them and it's shaping up to be a battle on the outside between Atlanta's receivers and the Cardinals' corners.
The Cardinals own one of the best defenses in the NFL. They've done yeoman's work shutting down passing attacks all year, so much so that it's masked their very real problems stopping the run. If that sounds like a less than ideal matchup for the Falcons...well, it is.
Wednesday, November 14
"He's going to finish the season with fewer carries than he has ever had," Tomlinson said. "Obviously, that means that they don't run the ball as much as they used to."
A breakdown of the key plays from the Falcons-Saints game after reviewing the Coaches' Film:
Also, unsolicited, he noted that on a majority of Michael Turner's 13 runs that he "had no chance" because "we had free runners at the point of attack." Turner finished with 15 yards and was stuffed on key third-and-goal from the Saints' 1-yard line.
Lawrence Sidbury, a 2009 draft pick, hasn't seen quite the opportunities he had last season when he finished second on the team in sacks with four. Last season, Sidbury didn't begin to see double-digit snaps consistently on defense until Week 11. From that week to the end of the season, the fewest snaps he saw in a single game was 13 and his max was 28.
The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have signed wide receiver Tim Toone and tight end Chase Coffmanto the active roster, placed tight end Tommy Gallarda on injured reserve, and signed tight end Andrew Szczerba to the practice squad.
All three of their back-to-back losses came in 2009, meaning that the Falcons have not lost two games in a row in almost three years. On Sunday they'll face a Cardinals team that is still vying for a playoff spot.
Tuesday, November 13
Surely, there are a few positives for the Falcons after their first defeat of the season.
For starters, they finally are freed from having to talk about being undefeated, the possibility of finishing undefeated and the increasing public scrutiny that goes along with all of that.
Here are the Falcons' grades for the 31-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Falcons have shown an ability to bounce back quickly after losses since Smith arrived in 2008. They've consistently done this under their current head coach. Smith and his Falcons are 18-3 since '08 after a loss.
Head coach Mike Smith spoke to the media Monday during his weekly day-after press conference about what the Falcons will need to do this week to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
It's extremely frustrating to see third-and-short come up every drive, only to see the sticks remain firmly planted it the ground. Honestly, they look better off on third-and-8 throwing downfield than they do trying to pick up a couple yards. This growing trend became apparent throughout Week 10, if it wasn't previously noticed.
Monday, November 12
The Cardinals aren't the only one with issues along the offensive line. Atlanta's run game has struggled of late due to run blocking, but center Todd McClure doesn't want to hear the criticism.
John Skelton will have one less pass rusher to deal with Sunday, after defensive end Ray Edwards was released by Atlanta. Edwards signed a five-year deal with the Falcons back in 2011.
The Atlanta Falcons are tasting defeat for the first time this season, but are not sure how to respond to it yet.
According to Saints linebacker Jonathon Vilma, the Falcons like to talk a little smack to former before games. Cardinals defensive back James Sanders played for Atlanta last season and might be hearing some talk this week.
Falcons wide receiver Roddy White feels his team had the "pedigree" to go undefeated this season and remains confident in his squad's ability.