Opponent by the Numbers: Arizona Cardinals Week 13

This should be an easy win for the Packers. What could possibly go wrong?

In a different season, Sunday’s game against the Cardinals would be considered an absolute gimme for the Packers.

Arizona (2-9) really struggles on offense and isn’t particularly good on defense or special teams either. Their team features a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback. It’s a team traveling east for an early kickoff time and a warm-weather squad forced to play in Lambeau in December. I usually avoid getting too wrapped up in the schedule, since the talent gap in the NFL is so narrow, but the case here is pretty compelling. In a typical year, everything points toward a Packers blowout victory.

But this season is anything but typical.

The Packers are 14-point favorites Sunday, despite their 4-6-1 record, and any team with Aaron Rodgers at the helm should be able to cruise to a feel-good win. But with the 2018 version of the Packers, nothing should be taken for granted.

In Week 2, the Vikings were supposed to be the dominant team in the NFC North, and the Packers outplayed them and were robbed of a victory. Washington was supposed to be an easy win, yet Adrian Peterson and Alex Smith rolled. The 49ers somehow lost to this Cardinals team twice and may pick first in next April’s draft, yet the Packers needed a dramatic comeback to beat them.

All the numbers and all the logic point toward a big Packers win, but this season has defied logic and simply has a toxic vibe for Green Bay. Something isn’t quite right. I’ve said previously that the Packers are getting less than the sum of their parts, so it’s tough to feel confident about any game, even one that should be so “easy.” Maybe I’m just protecting myself from an emotional letdown in case this season continues to go down the tubes.

But, seriously, come on. Just win this damn game, would you? And maybe look good while doing it?

-39.6%

The Cardinals are dead-last in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, fielding a unit that is nearly 40 percent worse than league average. They’re also last in yards per play at 4.3. Additionally the Cardinals rank 32nd in both net yards per pass attempt and yards per rush. It’s no wonder they’re scoring a league-worst 14.1 points per game. Forgive me if this is getting redundant, but the Arizona offense has been very bad this season.

In theory, this looks like a game in which the Packers’ defense can get off the field quickly and flex its collective muscle.

17.2%

That’s the percentage of possessions for the Cardinals that end in an offensive turnover, the fourth-highest rate in the league. This is more good news for a Packers defense that has only forced three turnovers in the last five games. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, so Green Bay should have a few opportunities to take some passes the other way.

37

It’s difficult to evaluate Arizona’s defense given how many bad situations it faces and how many lopsided games the Cardinals play in general. But with 37 sacks—second most in the NFL—it’s clear they can rush the passer. Edge-rush standout Chandler Jones leads the way for the Redbirds with 11 sacks, but 10 different players have taken down the quarterback multiple times for Arizona, including safeties Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker. Pressure could come from anywhere against this defense.

Perhaps the only way the Packers can lose this game is by allowing Aaron Rodgers to face constant pressure. Rodgers has been incredibly good at avoiding turnovers this year, but with David Bakhtiari unlikely to play due to knee injuries, Jason Spriggs will need to perform. A few sack-fumbles could spoil what should be an easy game.

But that wouldn’t happen, would it? Even in a season this perplexing?

__________________________

Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (7)

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Lare's picture

November 30, 2018 at 03:25 pm

This game should be a cakewalk for the Packers. Forget about the playoffs, poor passing mechanics, bad officiating, people losing their jobs and who's calling the plays. Enjoy it for the entertainment that it's supposed to be.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 01, 2018 at 08:38 am

There are no cakewalks with this team. But you are right .

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jgando12's picture

November 30, 2018 at 07:58 pm

Spriggs......please God, help us.

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Johnblood27's picture

November 30, 2018 at 09:07 pm

God can only do so much...

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 30, 2018 at 09:57 pm

He worked a miracle with Fackrel.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 01, 2018 at 08:37 am

What ,me worry?

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

December 01, 2018 at 09:52 am

Had we not eeked out that home win vs the 49ers & their backup QB, we'd probably have a Top-10 pick.

I'm 100% focused on the future with this team. This season is over. Ticket prices on Ebay & StubHub are lower than I can ever remember.
Sad times.....the Browns are a better team.

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