The Arizona Cardinals pretty much chewed thePackers up and spit them out on December 27 when they held them to 178 yards in a 38-8 romp out in the desert. But we do know that it’s pretty tough to duplicate that kind of effort against the playoff-level team twice in a very short period of time. At the same time, the Packers have to have at least some surprises in store for the Cardinals as these teams meet up in NFC Divisional Round playoff action at 8:15 PM ET on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. NBC will televise the game.
The impression of Green Bay on the part of many people going into last week’s playoff game at Washington was that they had slipped into some state of mediocrity. After all, they got off to a 6-0 start and then finished up losing six of their last 10 games. But after going down to a 11-0 deficit, they stormed back and scored on five straight possessions. One of the things that has to be impressive is that they had a running game, which has been up-and-down this season. Eddie Lacy had 63 yards and James Starks and 53; has a team the Packers at 141 yards on the ground, and Aaron Rodgers was sacked only one time. He had been dumped 14 times in the previous two games, including eight times by this Cardinal crew. But that was without left tackle David Bakhtiari, who is going to be back in the lineup tonight. That changes the level of protection in and of itself.
One of the things that the Packers can do here is offer some variety in terms of how they use Randall Cobb. If you remember his college days, he was, at times, a quarterback at the University of Kentucky, and coach Mike McCarthy sometimes puts him in the backfield for runs from scrimmage. You can expect some of that, as he complements Lacy and Starks. That’s going to be a positive for Green Bay.
Another positive for the Packers is that they seem to have found some comfort level moving in an up-tempo fashion against the Redskins last week. As soon as that happened Rodgers and the rest of his component parts on offense seemed to click. America’s Bookie patrons also know that the most consistent guy catching passes from Rodgers this season has been veteran James Jones, who spent last year with the Oakland Raiders and was picked up after having been cut in training camp. He had seven catches for 81 yards last week, and has averaged 17.8 yards per reception this season. With Jordy Nelson having suffered a season-ending injury before the schedule even started, Jones has been a real godsend for McCarthy (now calling the plays) and Rodgers.
One very positive thing to point to is the playoff experience on the part of Rodgers, which includes a Super Bowl ring. As we told our readers last week, even if this team is deficient in certain areas, they at least “know the drill.” Conversely, Carson Palmer, who has compiled a lot of big numbers for Arizona this season, has not won a playoff game yet in his career. Keep in mind that last week, the quarterbacks who were inexperienced in these playoff situations lost all four games.