Sunday Snapshot

The Cardinals have conquered some elite teams this season, including the Seahawks, Steelers and Browns. On Sunday, they'll try to pick pick off the lowest hanging apple.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/23/07
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli

SERIES: 24th regular-season meeting. The Falcons trail the series 13-10 but have won the last four. Atlanta last defeated Arizona 32-10 in 2006 after scoring 23 unanswered points. The Cardinals last beat the Falcons in 1997 in Phoenix, 29-26.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 34-20


The mentally exhausted Falcons simply can't afford to fall behind -- they don't have the offensive firepower or enough fight left to claw back into games. The Falcons could come out with an up-tempo offense, attempting to generate some rhythm and take advantage of QB Chris Redman's ability to see the field well.

The Cardinals don't have to look any further than their NFC-high 34 turnovers to figure out why they've lost six games by seven points or less. Arizona should be able to grind out an easy home win. The only major obstacle is QB Kurt Warner avoiding CB DeAngelo Hall and fumbling when under pressure.


Falcons: DE John Abraham (knee) might sit out; CB Chris Houston (knee soreness) has been limited this week but will play.

Cardinals: WRs Larry Fitzgerald (groin) and Anquan Boldin (toe) aren't 100 percent, but will play.

FAST FACTS: Falcons WR Roddy White needs one yard for his first 1,000-yard receiving season...Warner is 6-1 with a 119.9 passer rating in his career against Atlanta.



--TE Ben Patrick is starting now that Leonard Pope is out with a fractured leg and dislocated ankle. A seventh-round pick last spring, Patrick has shown steady improvement over the past month.

--S Aaron Francisco will start at strong safety for a second straight week. He missed five of the previous six games and looked rusty last Sunday against the Saints.

--WR Anquan Boldin should be able to play this week. He was productive last week despite a sore toe and has practiced all week.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald is doing less this week in practice than he did last week. He has been struggling with a sore groin but he expects to play Sunday.

--DE Darnell Dockett hasn't had a sack in six games after getting eight in the first eight games.

--QB Kurt Warner has thrown 21 touchdowns, the most by a Cardinals quarterback since Neil Lomax had 24 in 1987.


--CB Brent Grimes was promoted off the practice squad to take the place of Lewis Sanders, who was put on injured reserve because of a partially torn pectoral muscle. Grimes, a second year player from Shippensburg State, may be small, but he is a great athlete and a bulldog who has earned his way on to the team. He could emerge as a player in the league one day because of his diligence and work ethic.

--Rookie CB David Irons is receiving more playing time as the season winds down. Irons is by far the team's best special teams player and he is projected to be the nickel back next season. Atlanta could take a look at him at nickel back over the next two weeks. That might not be the most encouraging development for free safety Chris Crocker, currently the nickel back. Crocker is in the last year of his contract and if Irons shows well in nickel sets, the writing could be on the wall for Crocker.

--The free agent signing of FB Ovie Mughelli might be one of the biggest personnel mistakes amongst a slew of them by the Falcons over the past few seasons. Mughelli said in a radio interview that he's played, on average, about seven to eight plays a game. Atlanta paid him $5 million in bonuses and signed him to a six-year, $18 million contract last summer.

--With Atlanta's offensive line in need of a complete overhaul, C Todd McClure's future with the team could be up in the air. McClure is the team's most consistent linemen and has been with the team since Dan Reeves was coach. But he's in his ninth season and Atlanta drafted Ohio State's Doug Datish last season to eventually take over. Datish broke his arm in preseason and was placed on IR. If Datish is impressive during the offseason, he could push McClure. However, with Datish being out of football for a year, asking him to start could be a huge risk.

--Besides there being great uneasiness among assistant coaches about their future with the franchise, there are rumblings that members of the front office are getting antsy. Owner Arthur Blank is evaluating the entire football operation and with so many players seemingly not being legitimate big time players, some of the talent evaluators could be in trouble -- one of whom might be president/general manager Rich McKay. McKay is one of Blank's most trusted employees but Blank has yet to offer him a vote of support.

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