This will be a matchup between two of the last three NFC Champions. It will also be a rematch of the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history. Two years ago, the Cardinals beat the Packers in a 51-45 overtime thriller.
Things have changed. The Cardinals are now coming off of a 5-11 record, which was good enough for a last-place finish in the NFC West.
Green Bay has gone up since that playoff loss. It went 10-6 in 2010 to earn the final playoff spot in the NFC. The Packers then won road games against the Eagles, Falcons, and Bears, before beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
The Cardinals have more question marks than the Packers, who are largely the same team that won the Super Bowl last February.
Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin
When: Friday, 8 p.m. EST
Watch: KNXV ABC 15 in Phoenix, WFRV and State Preseason Network in Green Bay; online at NFL.com (must pay $19.99 for leaguewide package), live look-ins on NFL Network; game replay: 4 p.m. EST Saturday, NFL Network.
Listen: KTAR 620 AM, Sirius 137 Phoenix, WTMJ, Statewide Radio Network, Sirius 113 in Green Bay
Cardinals' Key Additions
While Arizona had plenty of roster changes, their biggest acquisition by far is quarterback Kevin Kolb.
The Cardinals hope that Kolb can lead them back to where the Cardinals were when Kurt Warner quarterbacked the team to consecutive division titles in 2008 and 2009.
Kolb started 2010 as the Eagles starter, but was hurt in the opening week of the season and eventually lost the job to Michael Vick.
His status as the starter is not in doubt, but Arizona wants to keep him healthy. They also surely want Kolb to develop a strong relationship with Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Another notable newcomer for the Cardinals is rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson. Arizona hopes that Peterson can help make up for the loss of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was traded to Philadelphia for Kolb.
Packers' Key Additions
The Packers have very little change in their roster.
Green Bay hopes that first-round draft pick Derrick Sherrod can make an impact on an offensive line that experienced more turnover than any unit on the Packers.
Cardinals' Biggest Loss
The acquisition of Kolb meant the loss of Rodgers-Cromartie. In his three seasons in the NFL, Rodgers-Cromartie has picked off 13 passes. In 2010, he registered three interceptions and returned two of those for touchdowns.
Additionally, Arizona loses receiver and return-man Steve Breaston. In 2010, Breaston caught 47 passes for 718 yards and one touchdown.
The loss of Breaston leaves Arizona with an unproven group of receivers, with the obvious exception of Fitzgerald.
Packers' Biggest Loss
Defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins was lost to the Philadelphia Eagles this summer. Jenkins had seven sacks in only 11 games in 2010.
Running back Brandon Jackson left and signed with the Cleveland Browns. Jackson rushed for 703 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. Additionally, he caught 43 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown.
What They're Saying
TSN's Chris Schultz likes the Packers' chances at becoming the first team to repeat since the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2003 and 2004. The main reason for that is quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who Schultz calls "The most impressive player I have ever seen in person."
Clark Judge of CBSPORTS.com says that acquiring Kevin Kolb was a good move for Arizona, despite the price they paid. While it's too early to call him a success, they feel that he's the answer to the most important position on the field. Once that's solved, the rest of the issues will fall in to place.
Cardinals' Player to Watch
Peterson will be tested against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
It will also be interesting to see if Andre Roberts can hold his job as the No. 2 receiver, or if one of Arizona's large group of receivers can take that job and line up opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
Packers' Player to Watch
B.J. Raji, along with the entire Packers line.
In the team's preseason opener, defensive coordinator Dom Capers switched many players on the defensive line around, with the hopes of making up for Jenkins' loss.
Raji, who played nose tackle last season, moved to right end, which is where Jenkins played a season ago.
Ryan Pickett, who had been on the inside of the line before last season, moved back to the inside in their preseason opener. It will be interesting for the Packers to see if they continue those alignments, and how the players continue to adjust.
Matchup to Watch
Kevin Kolb and the untested group of receivers vs. the Packers defense.
The Packers had the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL in 2010. Despite having a lot of hype, Kolb is relatively unproven as a starting quarterback.
Cardinals' Position Battle
The position to look for is receiver. Arizona feels that they have a deep group of receivers to make up for the loss of Breaston.
The current man in the No. 2 position is Andre Roberts. Still, Early Doucet, Chansi Stuckey, Stephen Williams, and DeMarco Sampson will all vie for playing time.
Packers' Position Battle
The word battle may not be accurate, but the continued quest to find the right formation to make up for the loss of Jenkins is important.
The Packers have very little question marks, but they will need to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback.
Can Kolb develop into the starting quarterback that the Cardinals want him to be? To do that here, he'll need to work against a good defense and develop a connection with Fitzgerald, as well as the rest of Arizona's receivers.
The Cardinals also feel that the acquisition of Heap can make up for the lack of depth at receiver. It will be interesting to see if Heap can remain healthy.
Prediction: Arizona has more to play for here. Look for a 31-21 win from the Cardinals.
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