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Ask the Expert: Kent Somers

Reggie Roberts: After winning their first four games, the Cardinals have dropped five consecutive games.  What's happened to Arizona and what kind of game can the Falcons expect to get from them on Sunday at the Georgia Dome?

Kent Somers: Injuries have been a factor. They lost quarterback Kevin Kolb to detached ribs and sprained shoulder. He wasn't putting up great numbers but he was efficient. His replacement, John Skelton, has struggled. The defense played well in the first six games but dropped off the last two. The 49ers and Packers scored 38 points in the first half on them. The tackling has been poor and there have been some breakdowns. On Sunday, the Cardinals need to play well early. This team isn't built to come from behind, and right now, they have nothing going for them on offense. The defense must play well and the team needs to get something out of its return units. Punt returner Patrick Peterson has been bottled up all year. He averaged nearly 16 yards a return in 2011 and had four touchdowns. This year, he has averaged 7.7 yards per return and scored no scores. RR: After Sunday's loss to bitter division rival New Orleans, the 8-1 Atlanta Falcons look to get back into the winning column. What are your thoughts on the Falcons and how they have played this season?

KS: I'm impressed but then I've been a Mike Smith for a while now. They have obviously played great and it's been interesting to watch Matt Ryan's maturation from afar. It seems Dirk Koetter has done a good job at coordinating that group.

RR: The Dallas Cowboys seemingly breathed some new life into their season with a 38-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.  Can this win be the spark Dallas needs to ignite them to an NFC playoffs spot?

KS: It could be, but then nothing is ever for sure with the Cowboys. That defense seems to be coming on. Now if they can just get the offense to stay out of the way. RR: Let's switch back to the Cardinals who are coming off of their bye week.  What is Arizona's identity and access their chances of snapping the five-game losing skid that they are currently on?

KS: Their identity, at least from a positive point of view, is that they are fast and tough on defense and have decent special teams. If they can somehow manage to score 20 points in a game, they are going to be in it, and probably win. It's going to be hard to snap the streak in Atlanta. And Ken Whisenhunt's teams are 1-4 after byes, if you buy into that kind of stuff. RR: What's going on with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who have lost two straight games heading into their bye week and can the Giants get things turned around?

KS: I think we've all learned never to count the Giants out. They just look like they aren't that interested in some weeks. How do you go into San Francisco and pound a physical 49ers team and then lose in Cincinnati? The Giants feel like they can always flip the switch. They probably can but it might catch up with them, too. But they have a great quarterback and that goes a long, long way. RR: Were you one of the NFL experts who picked Tampa Bay to have a winning record through the first half of the season?

KS: Uh, no. But I did think they would improve under a new regime. RR: And finally, give us your take on who the six playoff teams will be from each conference including division winners and wild card teams?

KS: In the NFC, I'd say 49ers, Giants, Falcons, Bears will win their divisions. Wild cards? I like Seattle but they have a tough stretch after the bye. Still, I'll go with them. And The Packers, I think, will be there.

In the AFC, I'd say Patriots, Houston, Baltimore, Denver will hang on and win divisions. Wild cards: Steelers and Colts.

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