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FALCONS VS CARDINALS 2009 NFL PLAYOFFS

1* Falcons -1 over Cardinals - Wild Card weekend this week figures to be just that. Wild. We have four games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, all of which figure to be competitive games in which a win by any of the 8 teams would not be a surprise. We may see some underdogs win, but there will be no true upsets regardless as all of these teams are plenty capable of advancing. What makes it all the more interesting is that all four road teams are favored.

We'll start with the first game on tap, the Falcons at the Cardinals. It's the game we like least of all this weekend. There are numerous pros and cons for each side here. We have the Falcons, led by a rookie QB and a rookie coach, who bode the 2nd rated rusher in the NFL in Michael Turner going up against the Cards, also led by a rookie head coach but with a QB that's been to two Super Bowls and won one. You'd have to give the Cards the edge at QB with Warner. Having been there and done that has to count for something. Ryan is a fantastic QB that we've followed all thru his college career though, and he has delivered all year. We wouldn't be surprised if he handles this game just like any other game.

When you break games down this time of year, you have to be very careful as to which games in the past you use as part of the handicapping process. Many throw stats around to the point that it makes you dizzy. Many are meaningless especially when you take a team like the Cardinals who have been coasting since clinching the division title way back on December 7th. As a result, you really can't place too much emphasis on the Cards final 3 games of the year. Any one using season to date stats, or even the final 6 or 7 games as a benchmark will be working with numbers that are skewed.

So when looking at this game, we've placed the emphasis for the Cardinals on the 8 week stretch that started with the Cowboys on October 12th and ended with the Rams on December 7th. This gives us a more accurate look at the numbers. It shows us what we want to see, which is how the team has played most recently when it counts. For the Falcons, we've taken the last 8 games of the season, as every game was important.

 

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When doing so, we see yards per points numbers of 13.5 on offense for the Falcons and 17.3 on defense while we see the Cards with a 13.3 on offense and a 12.5 defensively. Both teams have very good offensive numbers. It means both teams score one point for every 13 yards gained. The obvious difference would be defensively. A very respectable 17.3 for the Falcons but a very poor 12.5 for the Cards which would place them as worst among all playoff teams.

If the Cardinals are going to beat you, they are going to do it thru the air with Kurt Warner and they are going to outscore you. They aren't a threat defensively and are the worst rushing team, offensively, in the NFL. The Falcons on the other hand, have the much more balanced attack offensively and have the much better defense.

The Falcons simply look to be the more complete team. They have looked better against higher quality opponents than the Cards have. The Falcons beat the Panthers, Chargers and Vikings down the stretch and two of those were on the road. The Cardinals lost to the Giants, Eagles and Vikings down the stretch and two of those games were at home.

An interesting stat - The Falcons are 11-0 when they score first and 0-5 when their opponent scores first. That stat should be magnified this week. They can't play the Cardinals from behind. If the Cards score first and grab a lead it will make it more difficult for the Falcons to utilize Turner and the running game. They can't win a shoot out with the Cards.

This game figures to be close. Those looking for candidates for their teasers can look either way here. Where the line sits, a teaser using the cards and bringing them up to +7.5 looks good as you're picking up the key numbers of 3 and 7 along the way. Likewise, if the line shifts to Cards -1 you can do the same with the Falcons.

For our play here, it's the Falcons. Just a small 1* opinion as it's the game we like least of all. It's simply a play on what we feel is the better team. At the current number of -1, we're just asking them to win the game. The defense and the better showings against playoff teams are the deciding factors here.

1* Falcons -1 over Cards

 

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