What Wolf is watching for when the Cardinals host Atlanta in Week 6
The Arizona Cardinals have a win on the board.
They snuck out of Cincinnati last week with a 26-23 victory thanks to a terrific final drive which was capped off by a 31-yard field goal from kicker Zane Gonzalez.
The Cards are now 1-3-1, a better record than their next opponent, the 1-4 Atlanta Falcons.
Arizona has a chance to win two games in a row for the first time since 2017.
On Friday’s edition of 97.8 Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf, Ron Wolfley laid out what he will be watching from the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium this Sunday.
How will Vance Joseph defend Matt Ryan and 11 personnel?
According to Wolfley, the Falcons run 11 personnel (one halfback, one tight end, three receivers) 70% of the time. This strategy makes sense considering Atlanta throws the ball more often than any other team in the league.
Having to cover talented receivers Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu will be a difficult task for a very young Cardinals secondary still waiting for Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford to return.
“Will the Cardinals play man, zone or a combination?” Wolfley asked. “What degree do they become predictable? You can’t overload the young guys in the back ends, they’ll make mistakes. You want them to play fast, but playing fast means simple. Simple is not what you want Matt Ryan to think of when he sees your coverage. I’m sure you see the problem.”
How will the Atlanta Falcons try to move the ball?
Wolfley extended the question of whether the Falcons will stay balanced with the pass and rush attack. In short, he is not expecting them to.
Atlanta has 222 passing attempts to 91 rushes, and the Cardinals are the ideal defense for an offense like this to face.
Arizona has allowed the second-most touchdowns through the air in the NFL and has three rookies playing significant time.
Can the Cardinals possess the ball and score touchdowns in the red zone?
This game has all the making of a back-and-forth shootout. Both teams throw the ball a lot and have struggled to defend the pass.
A major difference though is that Atlanta has scored a touchdown 60% of the time when it reached the red zone. Arizona punches the ball in on 30% of its trips, the third-worst clip in the league.
Wolfley thinks that in order to even keep the game close, vast improvement will need to be made.
“I think 75 percent in the red zone will allow them to be in the game,” Wolfley said. “I don’t think that will allow them to win the game but stay in it. That’s how much of a shootout I expect.”