One week closer to the playoffs, and thank goodness we can officially look forward to that now. But first, a little excursion to Arizona for a battle with the somewhat surprising Cardinals.
Carson Palmer still has it, the ground game is alive and well, and their defense is very solid as well. This team has a legit shot at going to the Super Bowl. This is both a team you want to see the Packers play and a team that you don’t want to see the Packers play. On one hand, this is a team that will be a good challenge for Green Bay, one that’s very talented overall but still has its flaws, and we’ll see just where the Pack is as we start looking ahead to the postseason. On the other hand, this is a team that could drive us as fans crazy because the Cardnals could get off to a great start and get us all upset over the Pack’s offense and defense and the coaching and everything else ever. It could turn into an ugly week.
That all said, here’s the key matchups to look at during Sunday’s game:
Randall Cobb vs Patrick Peterson
Peterson is extremely good at covering wideouts. He’s going to the Pro Bowl again this year, and he might as well get himself a house in Hawaii because he’s sure to continue going there once a year for the foreseeable future. Frankly, Peterson is one of the first cornerbacks I would pick if I were starting my own NFL team. Cobb may be in for a long day.
Jared Abbrederis/Davante Adams/James Jones vs Jerraud Powers
Powers is the likely replacement for Tyrann Mathieu at safety. Mathieu was hurt last week and is done for the season. This means that there is fresh meat in the secondary for the Packers to attack via the passing game. We’d love to see Cobb be the guy to take advantage of that situation, but with Peterson likely to be shadowing him, I have to believe that one of the other receivers will be given the assignment of harassing Powers.
Will it be the most experienced of the receiving options, James Jones, to be given the duty of gashing Powers? Will Adams be given a chance to regain some pride that he may have lost a few weeks ago? Could Abbrederis be granted the chance to increase his role on offense and pull the secondary apart? Tune in Sunday to find out!
Packers O-Line vs the entire Arizona Cardinals defense
This is a point that needs to be made, but it can’t be isolated to one matchup. The Cardinals haven’t got a player with more than four sacks, but they have thirteen guys with at least one sack this year. The pressure will mount from every angle. David Bakhtiari and his buddies need to be clear with their communication if they’re going to keep Aaron Rodgers upright.
Carson Palmer vs Damarious Randall
Palmer isn’t afraid to take a chance now and again. He will throw the ball a ton, and with good reason. The speedy John Brown and now seemingly ageless Larry Fitzgerald are having very good seasons. Palmer has other targets that can and will do damage, and he’s said that his favorite receiver to throw to is “the open one” (I’m paraphrasing.) The Cardinals do well getting open, so it will not only be on Randall to cover receivers, but also to take advantage of those opportunities to get the turnover. He’ll likely get one or two of those chances in the game.
The Cardinals are 1st in the league in yards, and the running game has something to do with that, but make no mistake about it, they want to pass early and often.
Jeff Janis vs Patrick Peterson
No I’m not talking about offense! I’m talking punt returns! Janis has been unstoppable on special teams these last couple weeks, and he should be very valuable against a guy who can spring good returns on every punt. Love Janis or not, you have to give the man credit for the attention he draws from the gunner position.