The Drive for Five Begins with a Bunny.Posted:Nov 30th, 2018 3:51 pm
This is a kind of no-win situation for the Packers. As they return home from their grueling five-game post-bye stretch, they know the playoffs have begun on the first Sunday in December. And anything less than a double digit win over the Cardinals will be seen as failure.
It's a strange time in Packerland, where there appears to be a solid end-date on the Mike McCarthy era and it's likely either Black Monday, January 1st or the next day. The Packers have yet to win two straight games this season and now must win five, including a game at Soldier Field with a Bears team that may be coming off a Rams loss and itching to avenge what happened in the fourth quarter of the opener.
Anything less than a spot in the divisional round will likely spell the end for McCarthy and the choice to oversee Rodgers' golden years will be the all-consuming story in January. For now, the Packers will look to start the long road back to respectability. This week's opponent will not get the Pack any closer, since Arizona is one of the two or three worst teams in the league.
This marks just the sixth time that the Pack has been a two touchdown favorite in the McCarthy era (the Pack is 5-0 and 2-3 vs. the spread). The fact that a 4-6-1 team can even be a two touchdown favorite tells you all you need to know about Arizona, a team in transition, with some very good veteran talent (Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, Chandler Jones, Marcus Golden and Patrick Peterson) along with a rookie coach who two years ago was in charge of the Panthers' secondary and a rookie QB whose mouth has made a bigger impression than his arm.
Josh Rosen has beaten the 49ers twice and is 0-6 against the rest of the league. He has potential, but has a lot to learn and will give the Packers several opportunities to take the ball away--they lead the league in giveaways with 22. Fitzgerald is, in likely his final season of a spectacular career, still a factor and rookie Christian Kirk has been productive on the outside. But the Cardinals rank dead last in total yards and rushing yards. David Johnson hasn't forgotten how to run, but their offensive line is banged up and overall abysmal.
The one thing the Cardinals can do is rush the passer. They lead the NFL in sack percentage, led by Chandler Jones with 11. Patrick Peterson is still a top five corner and his matchup with Davante Adams will be the fun to watch, but look for Rodgers and the Pack to attack the defense with some quick hits and, gasp, underneath passes. I expect Aaron Jones to have his most productive game of the season on the ground--and maybe through the air.
Not a whole lot to write about with this one. It feels like the Buffalo game: the Packers could and should win easily and we'll all say, 'well, they were supposed to that. Season on the line, team from the desert coming up in December, a 2-9 team going nowhere, with an offensive coordinator who just took over a few weeks ago.' A big Packer win won't prove a lot, but it will keep the 'dream' alive for another week.
Packers 33 Cardinals 13