Winners of three straight, the Green Bay Packers welcome in the Arizona Cardinals who appear on the opposite side of the spectrum with four straight losses.
The Cardinals (4-4) are the first team since the 2002 Oakland Raiders to start the year 4-0 and lose their next four games. Green Bay has a chance to make sure the birds from the desert don’t follow the same path as that Raiders team went on to finish the year 11-5 and win the Super Bowl behind MVP-quarterback Rich Gannon.
Arizona Cardinals (4-4) Analysis: If you thought the Jaguars offense was bad, wait until you see Arizona’s squad. To call them one-dimensional would be a compliment. They have the 31st ranked rushing offense at 79.0 yards per game and are without their two best running backs in Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells (both on IR). Running Backs aren’t even the problem with the Cardinals though, it’s the offensive line. Not sure why, but Arizona elected not to draft an offensive lineman in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft at any point from 2008-2012. It doesn’t get any better at quarterback where John Skelton has thrown an interception in a league-leading 11 straight games. Sorry Larry Fitzgerald but this team just doesn’t know how to draft on the offensive side of the ball.
In a 24-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week, it was the first time all season that the Arizona defense had given up more than 21 points. They are one of the best teams against the pass, ranking fourth while allowing opponents only 192.9 yards per game through the air. This will fare well against a Packers team who is without key receivers and hasn’t been particularly potent as they’ve been in the past. A guy to watch is inside linebacker Daryl Washington who’s having a Pro Bowl year with eight sacks, including two against the 49ers on Monday night.
Green Bay Packers (5-3) Analysis: It wasn’t pretty, but the Packers persevered to a 24-15 win over Jacksonville last week. The rushing game has been all the talk leading up to the trade deadline, even though the team did not make a deal. When you think about it, it makes sense because the Packers just do not have the funds for a decent back right now when you consider the money they will have to give superstars Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews who have contract negotiations right around the corner. Nonetheless, the Packers will keep trying to establish the run with Alex Green, but it will always be about the passing game. If Jordy Nelson (hamstring) doesn’t play, it will be a great match-up between wide-out James Jones and Arizona corner Patrick Peterson. Believe it or not, Jones has zero drops this season despite the Packers being a team with significant drop totals.
Grading the defense against Jacksonville is difficult because they were so up-and-down. At times they were dominant and other times they made Blaine Gabbert and Cecil Shorts look like they were Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. The play of the defensive line will be huge on Sunday. It doesn’t get any easier than the lackluster Cardinals line, so expect Matthews to have a big day around the edge.
Prediction: Green Bay 27 Arizona 20
First of all, I hate double-digit favorites in the NFL. Whenever I see double-digit spreads, I almost always assume the the game is going to be a one-score game. As bad as the Cardinals offense is, I’m not sold on a young Packers defense being able to dominate a game. I also think Arizona’s defense is a little better than people give it credit for and will be able to give Rodgers and the Packers pass-happy offense some fits by making them run the ball. In the end, it will come down to the Cardinals offense making too many mistakes and not scoring enough points. In the four games they won, they were averaging just under 23 points, in the four losses, only nine points a game.
TV Coverage: FOX 12:00 PM CT including Joe Buck (play-by-play) and Troy Aikman (color) with Pam Oliver on the sidelines.
Betting Lines: Packers favored by 10.0 with over/under set at 43.5 points.
2012 Record straight up: 4-4
2012 Record against the spread: 2-6
2012 Record in over/under: 6-2
What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Cardinals game? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clay Matthews (rantsports.com)
Daryl Washington (fantasyknuckleheads.com)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks