Packers XLV

A Desert Win Is Likely Not in the Cards

Posted December 24th, 2015 @ 06:12pm

We all know there is plenty to play for when the Packers meet the Cardinals in Arizona. A win would give the Pack an outside shot at the #2 seed and a first round playoff bye (needing a week 17 win and an Arizona loss to Seattle).

An upset win by the Pack would also provide an adrenaline rush of momentum as they prepare for the NFC North championship game next weekend at Lambeau.

But let's not get our hopes up. Not to be the Grinch or anything, but Arizona will provide a monumental test for the Pack, even if they lost their best defensive player to a torn ACL on the final play of their blowout win in Philadelphia.

The Cardinals boast the most complete offense this side of Pittsburgh, and with the emergence of rookie running back David Johnson, who channeled his inner Eric Dickerson last week and sunk my previously unbeaten fantasy team, they're even more explosive.

Johnson is a dual threat who has the speed to take it to the house and will be a big challenge for the Pack's uneven run defense. If they pay too much attention to slowing Johnson, the Packers will need to win one on one battles with Arizona's deep corps of wide receivers, with speedy John Brown, JJ Nelson and Michael Floyd outside and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald inside. Even tight end Darren Fells has gotten into the act, catching six for 97 yards the last two weeks.

We won't know until Saturday whether Sam Shields has passed through the concussion protocol and is green lighted to play. Of all the banged up Packers, he's the guy the team most needs on the field in this matchup, to take Brown or Floyd out of the equation. Once again rookies Damarius Randall and Quentin Rollins will be called upon to step up in a big spot and try to contain the downfield passing attack that Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer love.

It's absolutely essential that the Pack puts some heat on Palmer. Their offensive line is mediocre and Palmer can get hit. What he hasn't done lately  is turn the ball over. The Cardinals have gone four straight games without a turnover and are +10 during that span. Yet they've been in a couple of close games. In their last three home games they've beaten the Bengals by three, the 49ers by six and the Vikings by three.

Lucky for them, this game may feel like more of a road game with the number of Packer fans expected to be in attendance. Good news, bad news there. Good news: the Pack will hear the love and likely get a boost. There are reports that Carson Palmer and the offense have been working on the silent count to prepare...at home. Classic. Bad news: it really pisses off Arians, who will use it as motivation for his team. He's already blasted season ticket holders for giving up their tickets to let the Cheeseheads in.

The Cardinals will score points in this one; that's a guarantee. The question is whether the Pack's offense can keep pace, knowing they're unlikely to count on turnovers to swing momentum. The Raiders focused on stopping the run and daring the Pack to pass and for the most part it worked. Green Bay was forced to turn to Randall Cobb in the backfield and four receiver packages to answer the challenge and finally gained some offensive traction.

The Cardinals are a blitz happy bunch that doesn't get much heat on the QB unless they bring extra guys. That means the receivers need to win their man on man battles. Patrick Peterson will likely take Davante Adams away. With Tyrann Mathieu out, Randall Cobb's day got brighter: he'll likely match up with Jerraud Powers, the former Colt corner who's been playing mostly outside but moves inside with the injury to the Honey Badger. Safety Rashad Johnson is the defensive leader--he's missed the past two games but is expected back for this one.

Rodgers has been calling for Jared Abbrederis to get more run and this might be his chance. With Adams and Janis dropping balls and the Pack likely to have ore success through the air, he figures to get an opportunity to show why he's quickly earning Rodgers' trust. Andrew Quarless may also return, now that he's grabbed the roster spot from the injured Ty Montgomery.

We won't know until Saturday whether Shields and Bakhtiari are good to go--needless to say, the Pack has a much better shot of staying in this one if they are both able to play. But when you add up the Cards' explosive offense, the fact that they don't turn the ball over, they will wrap up a bye with a win and the fact that Arians will make them grumpy that there's so much green and gold in the stadium, I don't see how the Pack can keep pace. Bring on the Vikings.

Cardinals 34  Packers 24

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Comments (5):

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm not quite as negative on this game as Dave and probably a handful of you, as I see this game as a measuring stick on what the Packers will be for the playoffs. They are relatively healthy at this point of the season, all things considered, and they still have the capability of pulling off the (not as surprising as you may think it would be) upset on Sunday. Keeping Palmer uncomfortable in the pocket should slow down the passing game. And if the Packers WR's can hang onto the ball, Rodgers should have a good game. I'm not predicting a score, but I am predicting the Packers to come out on top. My Christmas gift to you - a shot of optimism.

on December 24th, 2015 at 03:31pm

Forget the Carolina Panthers.....Arizona is the best and most complete team in the NFC and the whole NFL. They can win games with their offense....Carson Palmer at QB and 35yrs of age has found the fountain of youth with his Rodgers of previous years like numbers. The rushing attack is solid and their complement of receivers are footballs best. The defense is one of the NFL's best. This team does not turn the ball over and that is what we need to have a chance. If no Cardinal turnovers this could be a game where the Pack will be well under 60 offensive snaps because of long ball control drives which we have seen plenty of opponents do this year. Can we win....sure...but we need a near perfect game. I will leave the happy Santa Claus predictions to THE "VOICE". But I look us going into week 17 for all the marbles tied with that team west of us. GO PACK GO !!

on December 25th, 2015 at 02:21pm

Personally, I believe the game call on this one will actually be pretty vanilla. This a pretty uncommon opponent and really I think MM will just be trying to get a good read on them in hopes of a rematch. There's little on the line here. I'd expect this to look a bit like a tune up game. I do hope for us to move the ball better and Lacy to run hard. It will be nice to watch the Packer play when it is not raining.

on December 25th, 2015 at 08:11pm

I have a hard time seeing a Packers' win in this one as well. The bigger game by far will be next week at Lambeau for the Division. The home losses to the Lions and Bears have already sunk the Packers' hopes for a first round bye and home field for the playoffs. The key today is to not come out of it with an aggravated injury situation and for the week ahead to get Shields, Bakhtiari, Elliot and others back for Jan. 3 and the playoffs.

on December 27th, 2015 at 07:20am

Well fellers, and Ladies, I"m getting the gut feeling again. I said 3 weeks ago, ABOUT PLAYING WITH CONFIDENCE. Number 12 has played so well there in Az, but completely different teams I know.. I have this feeling 12 is going to play very well today. call me crazy. No reason for it, look at all your posts?Even THC is picking for 10 point loss. I think the passing game is going to click today, and were all going to feel better going into the vikes game. 12 likes domes and warm weather. But, it will be flexed to nite game next sunday, and be colder then hell, 12 and others do not like that I'm telling you, no matter what they say. I know Shields won't be in, but trust the others in backfield, mostly the rookies. they lose the honey badger, and he is like Hyde for us. does it all for them. I sure wish some one would tell me what happened with Lacy. But if things go like I think, we win 31-30, Vikes get break again, giants have nothing to play for, and OBJ is out. vikes win by 16. bring em on. Go Packers

on December 27th, 2015 at 10:55am

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