This Saturday night, the Green Bay Packers are going to face up against the Arizona Cardinals, in a Round 2 meet up. But, this round may not go exactly like the first time around. QB Aaron Rodgers and his Packers are coming off of a decisive 35-18 win in the Wild Card round against the Washington Redskins and believe they can go the distance. Before that win, which was Aaron Rodgers’s 7th career playoff win, the team had barely got into the post season, coming off a two-game losing streak, including a 38-8 lesson give by the very same Arizona Cardinals in Week 16.
In that meeting, Rodgers was under a lot of stress, and was sacked an unbelievavle 9 times! All game, Rodgers just couldn’t get into a rhythm, and QB Carson Palmer and the Arizona offense basically undressed Green Bay’s defense, which resulted in a massive blowout for Packers fans. But as every fan knows, in the playoffs, anything goes. And that’s what the Pack will be shooting for.
The confident and well prepared Cardinals are ready to face a much tougher team this Saturday thand they did in last month’s game against Rodgers’ Packers. After the winningest regular season in their franchise’s history, the Cards will host the despertate Packers in the NFC divisional matchup.
Arizona in beating the Pack in Week 16 extended its winning streak to nine wins in the 38-8 home beating on Dec. 27. To think that there were more sacks than points allowed, holding the Packers to only 178 yards, which was the second-lowest total of the season for Green Bay, is astounding. It was the Cardinals most dominant effort of 2015, and many think that it was Green Bay’s worst.
But don’t think that the Packers are one to take it laying down. Since they overcame an 11-0 deficit to win 35-18 at Washington on Sunday’s wild-card round, not only do the Cardinals’ eyes have to open, but so do other contenders in case they pull off an upset.
“We know Aaron is probably licking his chops wanting to play us again,” Said Cards cornerback Jerraud Powers, who converted a Rodgers fumble back seven yards for a TD in December.
The Packers quarterback wasn’t as descriptive in his description of the rematch coming up, but he was no less confident.
“We kind of felt like this was a possibility to be able to go back there after that loss,” said Rodgers, who was sacked eight times and threw for 151 yards at Arizona. “We’re coming off, obviously, a big win, and in (the Cardinals’) last game they got beat by a lot. So it’s going to be a more competitive game, I bet.”
Was it a fluke or the start of something great? Since Green Bay scored 14 more points at Washington than it did in losing their two previous to the Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings.
“It’s huge for us,” said Rodgers, who threw two TDs without an interception, was sacked once and backed by 141 yards from the running game. “We needed a game like this to get our mojo back and get our confidence going.”
Though some staff issues still remain on the offensive line, and their receiver Davante Adams who has injured his knee, likely will not make an appearence, their coach, Mike McCarthy is also confident for Saturday’s game.
“We’re no underdog going to Arizona,” he said. “I don’t care what people think or how we’re picked or things like that. We’re going out there to win, and we expect to win.”
The Cardinals will definitely be ready for the challenge and players have said as much to media.
“We believe that if we play our game,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald told local reporters, “we can beat anybody.”
13 wins has given Arizona the West Division title, and the second seed in the conference, including a first-round bye. With its playoff position locked in, at the end of this season, Arizona had little on the line, and Coach Bruce Arians didn’t make much of a result that ended their nine-game run. “We had a very great stretch and now I see the same thing in their eyes,” Arians said. “There’s something to play for. There’s something to prepare for, just like we did for nine weeks.”
Palmer, after setting franchise records with 4,671 passing yards and 35 TDs, the 36-year old will try a third time to get his first playoff win. He QBs a team that ranked first in total offense at 408.3 yards per game and second in scoring at 30.6 points in the league. Palmer was 18 of 27 for 265 yards with two TDs and one INT against the Packers last month.
“He’s extremely excited and raring to go,” Arians said. The Packers sacked Palmer twice in their last match up, but recorded six against the Redskins. “Guys just can’t wait to be in our home stadium (Saturday),” said Arizona cornerback Jerraud Powers.
That excitement should be infectious and should result in a very exciting game if the Cards don’t run away with it early.
“(Green Bay) will be better (than last time),” Cards linebacker Markus Golden predicted. “And we will be ready.” No doubt they will be and we agree.