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Packers Periscope: Divisional Edition at Arizona Cardinals

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Packers Periscope: Divisional Edition at Arizona Cardinals

The Past

Didn’t we just visit the Cardinals?  Perhaps shocking to few, the Packers were completely steamrolled by the Cardinals in week 16 and boy was it ugly.  First off, with David Bakhtiari out, Don Barclay got the first shot at manning left tackle and fared so poorly that he wasn’t even given a redemption shot the next week, with Josh Sitton switching over in week 17 and JC Tretter getting the nod in the wildcard round.  While it wasn’t completely Barclay’s fault, Aaron Rodgers was sacked 8 times for 70 yards, fumbled 3 times (losing 2) and threw an interception, only recorded 151 passing yards and a touchdown, good for a QB rating of 66.2, which was the 2nd worst QB rating he managed all year (the worst being the Thanksgiving game against the Bears). 

The defense did what it could, limiting Carson Palmer to 265 yards and 2 touchdowns to 1 interception by Mike Daniels.  On run defense, they fared rather average, losing 121 yards to three different runners but in reality this game was more about the Packers not being able to keep up with the Cardinals on offense.

The Present

Overall Team Efficiency

Packers

Cardinals

0.7%

16.8%

Offense

Overall

-6.1%

12.9%

Run

N/A

N/A

Pass

N/A

N/A

Defense

Overall

-5.0%

-11.0%

Run

N/A

N/A

Pass

N/A

N/A

Special Teams

1.8%

-7.0%

Quarterback (DYAR)

79

N/A

 

(All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders, click here for a detailed description of DVOA and DYAR.  And as always defensive DVOA is the inverse of offensive DVOA so negative numbers are better.)  

This week I’m doing something a little different, instead of showing the full season DVOA statistics, we’ll be looking at the weighted DVOA; basically what this means is that games 1-4 are discounted, 5-10 are weighed less and 11-16 are weighed more.  DVOA are not split between pass and run so it’s just offense, defense and special teams. This is highlights teams that finished the season strong and are brining positive momentum to the playoffs.  Basically what this shows is that the Packers have essentially been average over the back half of the season.  Let me repeat, the Packers, for all their offensive woes, injuries and blowout losses are still statistically speaking considered a league average team by Football Outsiders.  If that again doesn’t bring home the fact that Packers fans should be counting their lucky stars for how good this team is even when it’s playing poorly then I don’t know what will.

While there is a silver lining to the Packers statistics, there really is nothing positive to say about the Cardinals.  The Packers got lucky by playing Washington simply because no one wanted to win the NFC East, Washington statistically was not the superior team and took advantage of a soft schedule to win the division by default.  The Cardinals on the other hand are simply a better team than the Packers right now.  Outside of special teams (which as always isn’t that important), the Cardinals are vastly superior on offense and defense in weighted DVOA.  The only good thing that can be said is that Aaron Rodgers recorded the highest DYAR of QBs playing in the playoffs so far; of course Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning all had the week off so this might be a somewhat empty statistic. 

The Future

I think the outcome of the game will be decided by which Packers team shows up.  If the offense ends up being the same as the 1st quarter last week I don’t think the Cardinals simply score 38 points.  If the Packers offense is more like pervious years or even the rest of last week’s game, then the Packers have the ability to keep up with the Cardinals.  Both defenses are underrated in my opinion and both offenses can score points in bunches if you let them. 

I think the best case scenario for the Packers is a repeat of the divisional round in 2010 against the Falcons, who the Packers had also lost to in the regular season.  The Falcons came in unprepared and Rodgers was able to pull off one of his best games and it’s likely that Rodgers will have to perform in a similar manner to beat the Cardinals.    

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jh9's picture

I agree, wholeheartedly. This game does remind me of the 2010 playoff game against the Falcons when the Packers were heavy underdogs. No one quite knew who Aaron Rodgers really was until that game. It was in that game that Aaron Rodgers emerged as one of the elite quarterbacks of his generation, and they blew the Falcons away.

This season Aaron Rodgers has underperformed and the Packers offense has struggled mightily. Most of the so-called experts expect the Packers offensive struggles to continue in this game. If they are right, the Packers will lose and it won't be pretty.

However, the Packers do have the only player who could be the X factor in this game and that's Aaron Rodgers. If he can shake off whatever funk he has been going through this season and play up to his full ability, I believe the Packers will win this game.

Bearmeat's picture

Were we dogs in that game? I know we were but I don't think it was by a TD. Honestly, GB took ATL to the wire in the regular season that year and very well could have won.

Um... GB did most definitely NOT take AZ to the wire in the regular season this year. ;)

jh9's picture

That year Atlanta had one of the best records in the NFC. They were the top seed playing the Packers who were the lowest seed. Most definitely, the Packers were major underdogs in that game.

Bearmeat's picture

As I suspected, GB was getting much more love in 2010 than currently. That 2010 team was better than the 2015 team on defense and it was better in the passing game. The 2015 STs are better and the 2015 running game was better. That's it.

And AZ is much stronger than the Falcons were.

http://www.sportsbettinglines.com/packers-vs-falcons-betting-line-point-...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yes, that is because the 2010 Packers where ascending at the end of the season

rajahking's picture

No, this is just not accurate. You can go check this link, http://www.sportsbettinglines.com/packers-vs-falcons-betting-line-point-..., or take my word for it, it was about a 2 point spread either way.

At the time of the game it was well accepted - amongst commenting fans and most prognosticators - that the Packers were as good at ATL, and in some ways, had advantages on turf. Game was a coin flip.

This game is not. It will be a major upset if (when!! hope springs eternal) the Packers win.

Dan Stodola's picture

Just going by seedings they were underdogs. But the Packers were peaking and none of the playoff teams wanted to play them. I wouldn't say major underdogs tho.

Portland Mark's picture

One reason for hope: in 2007 an 2011, the Giants didn't take the Packers to the wire but lost handily. Of course we know what a debacle the playoffs were. Lets hope the Packers make like the Giants of '07 and '11.

hobbes's picture

Best I could find:

Green Bay Packers +1.5 (-110), Over 43.5 (-110), +110 (Moneyline)

Atlanta Falcons -1.5 (-110), Under 43.5 (-110), -130 (Moneyline)

- See more at: http://www.point-spreads.com/football/011511-packers-vs-falcons-2010-nfl...

Bearmeat's picture

The Cards won't come in unprepared.

I'm not worried about the Packers OL. While they've been a MASH unit all season, they're getting healthy now at the right time and they have plenty of skill to handle the Cards front 7 without 2 of their best pass rushers. They'll pass protect and run the ball well.

I'm also not worried about the defense with Shields and Rollins looking like they're going to play. We have the personnel in the secondary to run with their WRs and the pass rush ferocity to take advantage of Carson Palmer being a statue and a mediocre pass protecting OL on their part. They have a nasty passing game - and we have a nasty pass rush and cover team. As a matter of fact, I'm expecting a few short fields from turnovers on D.

No, what I'm worried about it is the short passing game. Sans Janis, who we all know won't see the field, our WR unit can't get open deep. We all know it. And AR tends to be a risk-averse QB who'd rather take a sack than throw it in a tight window.

IF we can make some hay in the short passing game (and that is a BIG "IF" against a very good Cards secondary) and IF we avoid turnovers (which I think is a safer bet), then this is a game GB CAN win.

So basically, the game comes down to MM finding ways to exploit the middle of the field in shorter routes, the pass catchers executing, and AR being the AR we all know and love - not the guy who's mostly been around since the Denver game.

All that said, those things all have to turn our way for that to happen. If one goes awry we're in trouble. I guess that's why we're 7 point dogs. :)

Tundraboy's picture

Bearmeat. I agree we have the nasty D and cover team to handle Arizona and get after Palmer. So aside from the obvious about turnovers, if we use the same approach that jump started us last week, and also use the middle of the field, we can definitely win. Lots of ifs but it would not be shocking for us to take it to them this week and perhaps come out with a win. I hesitate on the latter only because of how we can step off the gas and let them get back in the game. But I am enjoying that nobody is giving us much of a chance. Glad to see you being positive and that you have your game face on again.

WinUSA's picture

Okay...WinUSAnostradamus....

Palmer gets knocked out of the game by Mathews.

Abby gets over 100 total yards..(.watch the Pack use him for a jet sweep)!!!!!

Johnny "Rocket" Crockett get a surprise visit to the backfield and surprise the Cards for some quick hitters off tackle...for 40 yards.

Gunter gets his first playoff interception.

Rodgers finds new comfort in the pocket and throws for 3 TDs no picks.

And....that's what I got to say about THAT!

Go Pack.

Pack 33 Cards 21.

Tundraboy's picture

Nice!

FrozenTundra's picture

Can you get quanity ?

omega's picture

Anyone else feel like the special teams spent extra time on the surprise onside kick this week?

Tundraboy's picture

Ball security, fake punts??

omega's picture

That would be nice, yes, but to me I see GB kicking a surprise onside some point in the game, as McCarthy has done in the past in big games. That is, of course, if the offense scores to allow them the opportunity.

rajahking's picture

I don't really know how the Packers can win this game, strategically, but I know how they can lose it. If they come out flat like they did against Wash last week, it will be so, so tough to come back on the Cardinals... they are very balanced.

I didn't lose hope after we were down 0-11, b/c I knew our D would hold Wash's paper offense and give us a chance to come back, but the O has to get going early against AZ to give us a puncher's chance.

Bohj's picture

It feels like I've seen way more defensive stops and stands than I can recall since the Reggie White days. The D in 2010 seemed to thrive more from turnovers than actual stops. Even last AZ game. It was 10-0 and reasonably competitive until our offense squandered a Daniels interception that should have been points.

I guess....I just feel like every game I've said "Our D is keeping us in this....if we can just score now". But the scoring never came. Drives stalled. Passes sailed. Passes dropped. Runs went no where. Penalties. Accckkkkk. Yet here we are. Good D waiting for the O to awaken. We'll see if our momentum can continue from against the bad Skins D. Seattle moved the ball with less talent on the offense. Why not us?

Bohj's picture

BTW. Just watched Pack v. AZ 2009. That comeback from 31-10 down in the third quarter was sick. Too bad we lost on a crap no facemask call. The game gave me a spooky chill. Like we are owed something this time by the NFL karma gods. Too many heartbreaks.

Flow49's picture

Super Bowl 1 on NFL Net, awesome to get a chance to see a full game and not just clips of those greats.

Tundraboy's picture

Nice to see whole game again in color.
Willie Davis in studio was awesome. Great Packer

ben's picture

Losing Tyron Mathiau for the Cardinals defense is almost as devastating as losing Carson Palmer for the offense last year. Huge and eventually a season ender. But the Cardinals are still to good for the Packers. David Johnson will have over 200 yards rushing and receiving.

Packers: 24
Cardinals: 31

Chiefs: 19
Patriots: 13

Seahawks: 21
Panthers: 17

Steelers: 21
Broncos: 31

Dan Stodola's picture

"Losing Tyron Mathiau for the Cardinals defense is almost as devastating as losing Carson Palmer for the offense last year."

Hardly. Cards lost Palmer Wk 10 for the rest of the season. They went 3-4 during that time. Packers w/o Rodgers went 3-5-1 the previous year. Losing Palmer was very similar to the Packers losing Rodgers!

ben's picture

Best NFL Defenses Right Now.

1. Chiefs
2. Seahawks
3. Vikings
4. Broncos
5. Panthers

Dan Stodola's picture

Your viqueens might be in the top 10, but no way #3 over the Broncos. I would take Panthers above them too.

ATLPack's picture

I want to believe...I really do! I believe we will play well, and the game will be much closer than last go around. I just feel that we will be exposed with our lack of team speed on D, both horizontally in the run game, and vertically in the pass game. The Pack LB's simply can't match up. Hopefully we get an early turnover or two that changes the Cards game plan. Hope I'm wrong. Go Pack Go!

Since '61's picture

AZ brings a lot of speed on the field. The Packers have trouble with teams that play fast, such as Seattle in the past, Denver and AZ this season. We will need to wear down their defense with long time consuming drives and simultaneously keep their offense off the field. I doubt that we can come back from 2 or more scores down and I don't think that we can keep up with AZ in a shootout. For those hoping for a repeat of the 2010 game versus Atl, remember that Rodgers had much better receivers to throw to then as opposed to the current receiving corps and also that Atlanta's defense was not as good as this Cardinals defense is. We also matched up much better with that Atlanta team, then we do versus this Cardinal team. Can we win, yes, of course, but we will need a near perfect game and probably 1-2 turnovers or big ST plays. Win or lose the Cardinals are probably the best team that we will face regardless of how far we go in the playoffs. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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