If the season ended today the Packers would be the last team in, and the Cardinals the first team out of the NFC playoff picture. Both teams are fighting to take control of their respective divisions, and a win on Sunday would go a long way.
The season started with utter confusion regarding both of these teams. The Packers started off 2-3, while the Cards rattled off four straight victories, including a win over the New England Patriots and a blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Just as it seemed like the Cards were playoff-worthy and Green Bay wasn't, the world of football flipped once again.
Over the past few weeks he Packers have looked like Super Bowl contenders, while the Cardinals have looked like...well, the Cardinals. Green Bay has had three huge victories, including a blowout of the previously-undefeated Houston Texans on the road, whereas Arizona has lost four straight and is now 4-4.
This is the last game for both teams before they head into a bye week, and they are each looking for some momentum before having a week off. The Cardinals need to prove that they are still elite, while the Packers can't afford to drop anymore games in their pursuit of the 6-1 Chicago Bears atop the NFC North.
With so much on the line it is almost a guarantee that we'll see some fireworks on the field this week.
Here's an in-depth look at what to expect in this vital game on Sunday.
When: Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
TV: FOX (check local listings)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Listen (radio): WRAL 99.9 FM, online at NFL Audio Pass
Spread: Green Bay -11 (via Covers.com)
It turns out that one of the biggest games in Week 9 also has the biggest spread—and with good reason.
As the Cardinals continue to fall, the Packers just keep looking better and better.
Rodgers threw for 680 yards and nine touchdowns combined against Houston and the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he looked like he was in MVP form once again.
While the Cardinals have the fourth-best pass defense in the league and only allowed 200-plus yards passing in one of their four losses, just about every other aspect of their game has faltered, including their No. 24 passing offense and No. 31 rushing attack (which ran for a total of seven yards against the San Francisco 49ers last week).
The Packers have more than enough offensive weapons to beat Arizona on the ground and through the air, and their bend-don't-break defense will have no problem with the Cards. Throw in a home-field advantage and I expect this game to be an even bigger blowout than the spread would indicate.
Over/Under: 43.5 (via Covers.com)
With an explosive Green Bay offense normally the spread in their games in higher than a mere 43.5 points.
However, the Cardinals are killing this number, averaging 9.0 points per game in their four straight losses.
While the Packers have the potential to cover the spread by themselves, I see Arizona's pass defense holding the Packers to 30 points or less. This really comes down to whether or not you think Arizona can score two touchdowns or more on Sunday.
I think not.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
Green Bay Packers
Greg Jennings, WR, Out
Charles Woodson, S, Out
Jordy Nelson, WR, Questionable
John Kuhn, FB, Questionable
Mike Neal, DE, Questionable
Sam Shields, S, Probable
John Skelton, QB, Probable
Anthony Sherman, FB, Probable
Paris Lenon, LB Probable
Kerry Rhodes, S, Probable
Greg Toler, CB, Questionable
Todd Heap, TE, Questionable
Kevin Kolb, QB, Out
Fantasy Big Plays
Green Bay: RB Alex Green
We all know about Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game, but against the No. 4 passing defense in the league that potent aerial attack may struggle. If you have Rodgers you're obviously going to start him, but other than the former MVP it looks like the backfield may have the most promising options.
A big reason for this pick is the fact that Arizona has allowed 555 yards on the ground in their last four games. While they have been facing better back than Alex Green, 138.8 yards per game is a promising sign for the young running back.
Green has had 73 touches in the last three games, taking over the featured back role. He is going to get his chances against a pitiful run defense, which makes him a viable option this week.
After going for 65 yards on the ground against the fourth-ranked Texans run defense, I see Green breaking out against the Cardinals.
Projected Stats: 23 rushes, 95 yards, 1 TD
Arizona: RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
If you're desperate enough to start anyone on Arizona in your fantasy lineup not named Larry Fitzgerald, consider LaRod Stephens-Howling.
The Cardinals' third-string running back hasn't put up great numbers this season except for two weeks ago when he ran for 104 yards and a score against the Minnesota Vikings. Last week he only had six yards on eight attempts against San Francisco, but Green Bay isn't quite as ferocious as the 49ers.
While he probably won't put up great numbers, if you have no other options Stephens-Howling may be worth the risk.
Projected Stats: 15 rushes, 74 yards
Key to Victory
Yes, it's a cliche, but it couldn't be more true in this game.
Aaron Rodgers is the key for Green Bay's success week-after-week, whereas the Cardinals are hoping that John Skelton has the game of his life at Lambeau Field this week.
Rodgers put up video game-like numbers against Houston and St. Louis in Weeks 6 and 7, but he struggled against Jacksonville last week, throwing for only 186 yards. Against a stingy Arizona defense his play will be crucial in the Packers' success.
Skelton, on the other hand, has had a depressing 2012 campaign. His play behind center has been pitiful, and he has only thrown for one touchdown while turning the ball over six times.
These are two very different quarterbacks, but they are both the key to victory for their respective teams.
After reading this far you've probably figured out that I think the Packers are going to win. You're absolutely correct.
Green Bay is hot right now, and the Packers will roll to their fourth consecutive victory, heading into the bye. In doing so they will hand an Arizona team that relies on its second-string quarterback and third-string running back its fifth straight loss.
Rodgers will have a solid game, throwing for about 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he won't have to do much, as the team will take the lead early and run right at the Cards with Smith.
Final Score: Green Bay 27, Arizona 6
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