Packers/Cardinals Preview

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  • Big Game tonight. After a rocky season, it feels good to at least be playing in an important playoff game.
  • For weeks now, we’ve all known that something just wasn’t right with this team. The offense has been a shell of itself and perhaps more frustrating than anything – it seems like very few new ideas were brought forward to reverse the offensive funk…until last week. The offense wasn’t great in the first quarter but they flipped the switch and finally got things going. I think a big reason for the offensive burst was going to the no huddle. For weeks and weeks the offense has not had the sense of urgency that a struggling offense needs to play with. There was a spark from the no huddle that really helped turn things around.
  • The defense played reasonably well last week and they deserve some credit for keeping the Packers relevant this year. Where the Pack D is pretty good it seems, is in keeping opponents from scoring. I don’t know if stats back me up on this thought but this defense seems like one that is more vulnerable to giving up yards than giving up points. Ultimately, of course, that’s the most important thing for a defense. But this defense has also had to spend a lot of time on the field due to the sputtering offense, and they have had to go back on the field more than normal after foolish turnovers.
  • This is a defense that could rise up in this game – but I have real concerns about the Cardinals offense. David Johnson is a beast and I think we could have a very difficult time containing him today. I think he will be especially difficult on screens in space against guys like Jake Ryan. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes with over 150 total yards today.
  • Carson Palmer wants this game for sure. He has resurrected his career in Arizona and would love more than anything to get this team to the NFC Championship game at least. One of the things the Cardinals offense does best is throw it deep. I’ve been imploring the Packers offense to do this all year because it opens up the rest of the field – even on incomplete deep balls. I actually believe much of Bruce Arians’ offensive philosophy is built around establishing the deep ball early so that defenses can’t cheat (something defenses did ALL THE TIME against the Packers this past season). I expect us to get beat on a few deep balls, some of which may hurt us a fair amount. But I also expect some mistakes from Palmer. As well as he has played this year, I think he may be in for a turnover-prone game today.
  • Aaron Rodgers is going to have to make plays. Establishing the run is important yes, but will be much harder vs the Cardinals this week. I think Rodgers is going to have to make a few of those improvised runs that get us key 1st downs. I actually think it would be really smart today to call several designed runs for Rodgers – we often forget that he can be part of the spark for the running game.
  • I think today would be a great day for a trick play. Teams have simply come to expect such a bland offense in terms of playcalling that a trick play or two would probably work out really well. Let Cobb throw one deep.
  • This is a tough game to pick. I’ve gone back and forth all week. The Packers have a QB with better playoff experience, the homefield advantage likely won’t be a huge factor and Carson Palmer can be a mistake-prone QB. Plus AZ has the burden of being a considerable favorite. But the Packers have been up and down much of the year, the defense has been decent but was shelled last time we played AZ and our offense could be contained far more effectively by a Cardinals D than it was by a Washington D. I am going to go out on a limb here and say Aaron Rodgers ends up having a game for the ages – with his legs! He will also be good through the air but for some reason I see him making AZ pay with his legs.
  • Packers 24, AZ 23.
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