Five to Watch: Atlanta Falcons @ Cardinals

The competition in the desert is heating up and so is the drama. Edgerrin James chose the playoffs forum to once again express his concerns about his role on the team. But the Cardinals don't need him to be an offensive lineman on Saturday, they need him to run baby run. Find out why else he is one to watch for Saturday, and the rest of Jason Harris' keys to defeating the Atlanta Falcons.

RB Edgerrin James

He's back. James came out of nowhere last week against the Seattle Seahawks to carry the ball 14 for 100 yards, averaging 7.1 yards a carry. After being demoted in week eight for rookie Tim Hightower, James had just 11 rushing attempts in the Cardinals last eight games before the Seahawks.

Maybe head coach Ken Whisenhunt had a plan all along. James looked healthy, quick, and extremely determined. This could be bad news for the Falcons. James showed he was still capable of getting the job done. Healthy and with plenty of playoff experience expect James to see at least 10-15 carries as the Cardinals try to establish the run against the Falcons. Don't expect 100 yards.

The Cardinals could be iffy about James because of his comments, but James will be playing for a contract with another team.

QB Kurt Warner

Warner failed to throw a touchdown for the first time all season two weeks ago against the New England Patriots. In his last four games he has a thrown just five touchdowns. He finally got back on track last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Warner went 19 of 30 for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Hopefully he is back to form and ready to lead the Cardinals past the leagues 21st pass defense. The Cardinals are counting on Warner's post season experience to be the difference.

Warner will play to make the league wish he was its MVP.

WR Anquan Boldin

After missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, Boldin is expected to play. He has missed four games this year but when he plays he is a beast. Boldin averages seven catches, 86 yards, and almost a touchdown a game, although Boldin hasn't scored in his last three games. After missing time early in the season Boldin returned in week eight and scored twice. Expect something similar. He's always playing with something to prove.

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Rodgers-Cromartie was named the NFL's December Defensive Rookie of the Month. His big time play as of late will be a must this week against the Falcons. Rodgers-Cromartie was drafted 15 picks after Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. A rookie-on-rookie battle may see both players taking advantage mistakes. Ryan is playing well so it wouldn't be out of the question for him to beat an aggressive DRC deep with a pump fake. However, Rodgers-Cromartie could just as easily take a poorly thrown out the distance.

University of Phoenix Stadium

The game is sold out. Great fans are great motivation. The home crowd advantage has been big for the Cardinals all year. With a 6-2 record at home, the Cardinals are fortunate to get a home game. West teams going east have not faired well. The stadium should be more electric than ever. All season players and coaches have been using the terms "felt like a playoff game" or "playoff like atmosphere," well on Saturday it's the real thing. In the last 8 weeks, the Cardinals have drastically reduced the amount of penalties they commit. This is a good sign for a team that can sometimes get too excited. If the roof is closed the Falcons may have communications issues resulting in Cardinal points.


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