Last year, the Falcons were the No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC. This year, we can rule them out of playoff contention just seven games into the season.
The Falcons traveled to Arizona and took a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking from the Cardinals, losing 27-13 and dropping to 2-5 on the season, ending any glimmer of hope that any Falcons fan could realistically have about this team turning things around and making a playoff run.
With receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White both injured, the Falcons simply can’t make big plays on offense. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw four interceptions and got sacked four times, and the Falcons’ rushing offense was even worse than their passing offense: Steven Jackson had 11 carries for six yards.
The Cardinals’ defense also deserves a lot of credit: This is a tough, physical unit that doesn’t make it easy for anyone to move the ball. And although the Cardinals’ offense still has its problems, it found a big-play back in rookie Andre Ellington, who carried 15 times for 154 yards. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was far from spectacular, but he was effective and threw two touchdown passes.
So while the Falcons are out of it, don’t rule out the Cardinals making a wild card run. This win runs their record to 4-4, and after their bye next week they get back-to-back winnable games against the Jaguars and Texans. This Cardinals team can legitimately consider itself a playoff contender. The same cannot be said for the Falcons.