For the first time since 2010, the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals will renew their long held rivalry with a pivotal game for both teams, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay Wisconsin (1pm ET, Sunday).
The Packers, who walked away from the last regular season meeting against the Cardinals with a 33-7 victory, are at a point of their season where they can breathe a sigh of relief. After starting just 2-3 and falling well behind of the NFC North’s first place Chicago Bears, the Packers have won each of their last three games, scoring at least 24 points per contest. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has performed much better in these games as well, including putting up 42 points on 338 yards and six touchdowns to take down the undefeated Houston Texans to start off the winning streak.
The Cardinals meanwhile, who enter the season on the heels of a monster playoff victory over Green Bay in 2010, have begun to spiral downward since starting the season 4-0. Looking like they might be legitimate playoff contenders through the quarter mark of the season, the Cardinals have struggled mightily, losing each of their last four games, two of which came in decisive fashion. Injuries have forced them to shuffle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton at quarterback and with the exception of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, have failed to establish any sort of consistent passing or running offense.
Arizona’s Worst Nightmare: Aaron Rodgers Being Aaron Rodgers
When you put together a season that arguably rivals some of the best of all-time, it is really hard to improve upon it. This is the trap that Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers found himself in to begin the 2012 season.
In 2011, Rodgers and the Packers blew away the competition as they lost just one game all year and dominated each of their opponents. The team completed obliterated scoring records as they finished the season with 565 points including six games in which they scored over 40.
In putting up these lofty numbers, it is no surprise that Rodgers too, put together an absolutely superb season. He was a runaway MVP winner as he posted career highs in nearly every offensive category. For the record books in 15 games played, he threw for 4,643 yards averaging 9.25 yards per pass, had 45 touchdowns, just six interceptions and had a quarterback rating of an astounding 122.5.
Undoubtedly it was a phenomenal regular season and as a result, left a benchmark for Rodgers and the team that was going to be tough to top.
To call a season where in eight games, a quarterback has thrown for 2,165 yards (4th in NFL); an average of 270 yards per game, pedestrian would seem ridiculous. To call it average to throw 21 touchdowns (1st in NFL) and four interceptions while riding a rating of 107.9 (2nd in NFL) and seeming like a definite contender for a second consecutive MVP. That said, for Rodgers and the expectations that were lifted onto his shoulders following his 2011 campaign, this season has been just that, average.
The problem for the Cardinals however is that during Green Bay’s current three-game winning streak, Rodgers has been anything but average.
- Game One of Streak, (42-24 win over HOU): 338 YDS, 64.9 CMP%, 6 TD
- Game Two of Streak, (30-20 win over STL): 342 YDS, 81.1 CMP%, 3 TD
- Game Three of Streak, (24-15 win over JAC): 186 YDS, 62.9 CMP%, 2 TD
Although Rodgers is coming off a subpar game against Jacksonville, his stats during the Packers three game winning streak speak for themselves. He has thrown over 800 yards and has thrown 11 of his 21 touchdowns during this time. Most importantly however, he has not thrown one pick, which is reminiscent to his incredible total of just six interceptions last season.
As many teams learned last season, when Rodgers is on a role, he is tough to be contained. He has an amazing knack of being able to see the entire field and can spread the ball out to all of his receivers.
The Cardinals do have the league’s fourth best passing defense, but when Rodgers is playing like the way he has been, no defense is able to stop him. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Green Bay quarterback has been on a roll that doesn’t look to be coming to a halt anytime soon.
Larry Fitzgerald Could Have A Good Game… If He Had a Better QB
With strong safety Charles Woodson and his 55 career interceptions out of the game for Sunday, Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has an absolutely salivating match-up awaiting him Sunday afternoon.
The problem however is that a wide receiver can really only be as good as the quarterback throwing him the ball and in Fitzgerald’s case, that isn’t a very promising situation. Despite him likely being open on most plays as no one else in the Packers secondary can match his speed, Fitzgerald’s production numbers will be mainly dependent on the ability of John Skelton to hit his open man.
On the season, Fitzgerald has caught 45 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns. The numbers are good but on a better team with a better quarterback throwing him the ball, they would be even better. On several occasions, Skelton has overthrown an open Fitzgerald and cost the Cards a chance to keep drives alive.
With no running game to speak of and a receiving core that is laughable at times, Fitzgerald is the lone bright spot. If the Cardinals hope to have any chance to knock of the Packers, they will need to find a way to get him involved early and often in this game.
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers Betting Picks Verdict
Rodgers is on a roll, the Packers defense has been improving and Arizona has shown no signs of life in the past four weeks. The spread is a lofty 10 points but take the Packers to cover anyway and for the same reasons, take the over at 43.5. To summarize:
- Bet on the Green Bay Packers -10pts @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook or -10.5pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- Also back over the points total of 43.5 @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook or Bovada.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place your bets with Bet365.