…is what it will take to beat Arizona come Sunday.
The Packers somehow won the game in which they were completely outplayed. Oakland had more first downs, yards, 3rd down conversions (surprise!), plays, and time of possession. Turnovers were key, as the Packers capitalized to the max on both Raider turnovers, scoring 14 points off both. Essentially the defense did all of the work on those, leaving the offense to put up 16 points. That will not get it done in the playoffs. The rookie cornerbacks held their own on the outside this game, even though Amari Cooper had a solid game of 100+ yards and 2 TDs. Randall had a pick-6 land in his belly and Rollins made an incredible play in the end zone to hold Oakland to a Field Goal, keeping momentum. James Starks was the better running back, again. Even putting another ball on the ground he still was the preferred back by showing heart and a want to be on the field as opposed to his lazy counter-part, Lacy. The promising thing was seeing this Packers defense close out the game, multiple times as Rodgers threw a Favre-like red zone interception for no reason in the last few minutes of the game when there was an opportunity to put an exclamation point on a road win. The defense has showed it can play well with a lead and hold teams when trailing, it’s not a lock down defense but it would’ve been more than good enough to win a super bowl with last years’ offense.
Toughest Test? – Arizona is considered by many, including yours truly, to be the most complete team in the NFL dating all the way back to week 1. The Cardinals seem to have an advantage at each position except for Punter. It doesn’t seem like much but that may be Green Bay’s area to take advantage to swing this game in their favor. By winning the field position battle and turnover battle (Green Bay leads the NFL with 11 giveaways, fewest with Arizona at 19) it would set the Packers up for an opportunity to win this game. The Cardinals are the epitome of the phrase their sum is greater than the individual parts. They play man coverage and blitz often to pressure the quarterback, which Aaron Rodgers and the Packers normally would welcome with open arms in years past…now it’s been a nightmare.
Ahh yes, Eddie Lacy. A week removed from one of his best games as a pro he reverts back to being lazy and looks more plump than usual, which is really saying something for him. He didn’t hit the hole with aggression or decisiveness and kept bouncing things outside, which doesn’t end well when you’re not fast and just get caught in a heartbeat by the defense. Even though Starks put the ball on the ground once again he was at least productive and earns his carries, week in and week out. Each are averaging 4.1 yards/carry this season but Starks has shown consistency whereas Lacy is consistently inconsistent. It’s safe to say the Packers won’t extend #27 past his rookie contract which ends after the 2016 season unless he shows a dedication to football and his body, don’t bet on it.
Green Bay can lock up the 2-seed in the NFC by winning out (at Arizona this week and v Minnesota next) and having Seattle beat Arizona next week. Albeit likely a pointless game for Seattle (if they win this week they will lock up a playoff spot but cannot win the division or earn a bye) so they may not being playing for anything. – To review, the Cardinals’ D matches up very well with the Packers’ O, their offense matches up well with GB’s D, and the Packers may have a slight edge in the special teams dept. Overall I’ll be rooting like hell (as always) for the Packers to pull this out but I don’t see how without luck and a bad game played by Arizona….