Green Bay (11-6) at Arizona (13-3)
When: Saturday, January 16th 2016
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
The Green Bay Packers, fresh off their Wild Card win at Washington, will travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Packers fell behind early against Washington, but a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers propelled Green Bay to the road victory. One of those touchdowns was caught by Davante Adams, who is not expected to play Saturday due to an MCL sprain in his knee. Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks each ran for a second-half touchdown while gaining a combined 116 yards on 24 carries. The 35 points the Packers scored was the most since they scored 38 in Week 3. Green Bay will try to avenge a Week 16 beating at Arizona in which Rodgers was sacked eight times before being pulled. The Packers lost that game 38-8 and looked horrible all day. Rodgers was just 15-of-28 for 151 yards and an interception and fumbled three times with two being returned for scores. The Packers defense, which was ranked 6th against the pass this season, will have to be ready for one of the top offenses in the league. Green Bay got after Kirk Cousins last week and sacked him six times including two each by Mike Neal and Nick Perry. The Packers have been without cornerback Sam Shields (3 INT) the last four games and he’s still listed as questionable with a concussion.
The Cardinals ran off nine consecutive victories before dropping their season finale to the Seahawks 36-6, but already had the #2 seed wrapped up. Carson Palmer had a career year and will probably be second in the MVP voting behind Cam Newton. Palmer set career highs in yards (4,671), TD passes (35) and quarterback rating (104.6) while throwing to one of the league’s top receiving corps in Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald had a career-high 109 catches and three of them combined had 22 scoring receptions. Floyd has recorded five 100-yard performances in his last eight games, including six catches for 111 yards against the Packers. Arizona had the number one offense in the NFL and the number two scoring offense (30.6 points). Rookie running back David Johnson has scored a total of 13 touchdowns and had been superb since taking over as the starter and is averaging 4.6 yards a carry. He’s also a big threat out of the backfield catching 36 passes for 457 yards. Arizona LB Dwight Freeney and DL Calais Campbell combined for 5.5 sacks in the first meeting against Green Bay. Arizona finished 5th in overall defense and 7th in points allowed (19.6). The nine sacks they recorded against Green Bay in Week 16 is something they would love to repeat on Saturday.
I love Aaron Rodgers, but he’s not having his best season. The Packers struggled down the stretch and I’m not going to get too excited about last week’s effort. Remember, the Redskins had the 28th ranked defense in the NFL this season. I’m also not worried about Arizona’s loss to Seattle in Week 17. We all saw what happened in Week 16 against Green Bay. I think this will be a closer game than that, but I do think the Cardinals win this game in convincing fashion. I’ll swallow the points.
Pick: Cardinals -7