The Arizona Cardinals (1-0) and Atlanta Falcons (0-1) will square off for the first time since the 2009 playoffs when they meet in Week 2 of the regular season on Sunday. The Falcons (-6.5 @ Bookmaker) will have the advantage of an older, wiser Matt Ryan this time around though since he was a rookie the last time these teams met while the Cardinals will have a new quarterback in Derek Anderson, who replaces Kurt Warner.
Arizona did not look sharp with Anderson under center in winning its season opener 17-13 at St. Louis last week. Anderson finished with 297 yards on 22-of-41 passing but was not in sync with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who totaled just three catches for 43 yards despite being targeted 15 times. One of those catches was a 21-yard touchdown grab that gave the Cardinals the lead while fellow receiver Steve Breaston totaled a team-high seven receptions for a career-high 132 yards.
Fitzgerald is still bothered by a sprained right knee that kept him out of the last three preseason games. He practiced fully on Wednesday while running back Beanie Wells went through a limited workout after sitting out the win over the Rams due to a knee injury. Arizona could use Wells since Tim Hightower struggled carrying most of the load in his place, losing two fumbles to St. Louis. The Cardinals will also be without wide receiver Early Doucet due to a sports hernia that is expected to keep him out at least two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Falcons need to turn things around offensively after a disappointing 15-9 loss in overtime at Pittsburgh. Atlanta got only three Matt Bryant field goals against the Steelers and will need running back Michael Turner to find some success on the ground to help balance out the offense for Ryan. Turner totaled just 42 rushing yards on 19 carries while Ryan completed 27 of 44 passes for 252 yards, including 13 for 111 yards to wide receiver Roddy White.
Atlanta was solid defensively against Pittsburgh outside of giving up the game-winning touchdown run of 50 yards by running back Rashard Mendenhall in OT. The Steelers rushed for 93 yards on 30 carries (3.1-yard average) without that run and passed for 211 yards.
Atlanta has won four straight at home vs. Arizona, and the series between the two teams overall has been high-scoring. The NFL Pick OVER is 6-1 in the last seven regular-season meetings and 7-1 in the last eight if you include the 30-24 win for the Cardinals in the playoffs two years ago.