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Game Scout: Falcons-Cardinals

The SportsXchange

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Arizona Cardinals (3-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. - TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Molly McGrath

*Keys to the game: Cardinals QB Caron Palmer continues to receive unwavering support from coach Bruce Arians despite throwing multiple interceptions in five consecutive games. At the heart of the offensive issues is the lackluster ground game and offensive line that allows constant pressure on Palmer. Arians says Palmer's past four interceptions haven't been his fault as the quarterback has been forced to "run for his life." Atlanta has been getting off to fast starts all season and would love to put Palmer in the one-dimensional passing mode that has led to so many turnovers. The Falcons' offense anticipates the return of RB Steven Jackson and LT Sam Baker. While QB Matt Ryan continues to deal with a depleted receiver corps, WR Harry Douglas has stepped up big and the protection for Ryan has been excellent (nine sacks allowed).

*Matchup to watch - Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora vs. Cardinals LT Bradley Sowell: While RT Eric Winston is also under the gun, Sowell is coming off an extremely rough game against Seattle. He lacks the bulk and strength to handle bull rushes and the experience to deal with versatile pass rushers. Umenyiora (four sacks, two forced fumbles) will throw the kitchen sink at Sowell.

*Player spotlight - Falcons WR Harry Douglas: Not only is he an integral part of the offense following Julio Jones' season-ending injury, but Douglas is in the mix to potentially return punts after Robert Alford fumbled last week and coach Mike Smith opened the competition to Douglas and Robert McLain.

*Fast facts: The Falcons have outscored opponents 41-3 in the first quarter this season. ... Palmer has an 18.8 completion percentage on passes that travel 20-plus yards downfield.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Cardinals' defense is keeping the team in games, but the offense can't sustain drives and QB Carson Palmer continues to force the ball into coverage. A stark contrast to Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who has been protected well and has thrown only three picks.

*Our pick: Falcons 24-20
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