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Playoff Preview – Packers vs Cardinals

Posted by mvetack on January 5, 2010


Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals – Sunday at 4:40

This is one of three rematches of week 17 games. In the regular season version of this match up, the Packers came out on top winning 33-7. You can throw that result out the window because of just one stat… Kurt Warner threw the ball 6 times. So this game will be completely ignored and means nothing going into the game Sunday. Here I will compare the main pieces of each football team with statistics and what I have seen watching both teams.

Quarterback


Kurt Warner is one of the great playoff quarterbacks of the past 15 years with both the Rams and the Cardinals. His average playoff game stats are 306 yards 2.3 TDs 1.18 INTS and a rating of 98.9. Warner simply shows up in the playoffs and this year will be no different at home.
Aaron Rodgers is quickly becoming one of the league’s top quarterbacks and has already won over spoiled packer fans who have had a solid quarterback for over two decades now (some guy named Favre played there). Rodgers put together a spectacular season with nearly 4500 passing yards to go along with 30 TDs to just 7 Ints. The only knock on Rodgers I saw is he tends to hold the ball too long and gets sacked because of it. In the second half of the season the sack totals on Rodgers dropped because he started throwing the ball quicker whether to WRs or outbounds.

Because Rodgers changed this little buggaboo on his game, The quarterback battle is a split.

Running Backs

Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower are both exciting young players who have great upside (Wells more so than Hightower). Wells has shown the explosiveness that got him drafted out of Ohio State and have given the Cardinals a possible work horse if they would just give him the opportunity. Hightower is a great second back but tends to fumble the ball in an Adrian Peterson like clip. The Cardinals could have a better run game if they weren’t so pass happy (I guess its not their fault seeing they have Warner, Fitzgerald, Boldin in the pass game).
Ryan Grant is one of few running backs in the NFL today that does not share the ball too much. Grant for the second straight year eclipsed 1200 yards and added a career high 11 TDs. Grant isnt the fastest, quickest, or strongest back but he sees the holes and hits them. Grant is consistent and can catch the ball out of the backfield with the best of them.

Because the packers trust Grant and he consistently delivers, Ryan Grant swings the Running back battler in Green Bay’s favor.


Wide Recievers

Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin might just be the most talented Wide Receiver duo in NFL History. Not too many times have one team had two clear number one skilled WRs lining up at the same time. Fitzgerald is THE guy but Boldin is right behind him. Both command double teams but rarely get them because the other is so good too. Boldin, the second guy on the depth chart, is a number one guy on probably 90% of teams across the NFL.
Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are not too bad themselves. Greg Jennings is quietly one of the top WRs in the NFL. At age 34 Donald Driver put together another 1000 yard season and doesnt seem to have lost a step since he was 25. Whether it is Rodgers or Favre, Driver continues to play at a high level. Jennings is the so called number one guy on this team, but like Arizona both could be swapped up and down the depth chart. Jennings is in just his fourth year and will be a top guy for many years to come.


Both teams represent two of the best WR duos in the game and it should be very fun to watch all four of them on the field for four quarters.
The edge goes to the Cardinals with the young, fast, and strong Fitzgerald and Boldin.

Offensive Line

The Cardinals offensive line is bipolar. They are near the top at protecting the cement footed Warner being sacked 26 times ranking 7th best in the league. They are mediocre at best in run blocking with runs resulting in 4.1 yards per attempt ranking them 19th best in the league. This is a middle of the road rank but what is bipolar about them is that they will run great one game and absolutely horrible the next. Basically you wouldn’t bet anything to valuable on them reaching that average on any single game.

The Packers offensive line is straight up horrid protecting their golden one in Rodgers. Yes Rodgers tends to hold the ball longer than most quarterbacks, but still the guy has been sacked a league worst 51 times this season. Running the ball they rank 11th at 4.3 yards per attempt which is not much higher than the Cardinals 4.1. The difference is that it is a consistent 4.3 yards. The Pack arnt averaging 5.6 one game and then 3.2 the next. For the most part on a given day they will be very close below or above that 4.1 average.

The consistency of the Packers run blocking does not trump their horrible pass blocking in this match up. Yes the Cardinals run blocking is suspect but it is there about half the time. The Packers pass blocking is never there. The combination of potential in run blocking and great pass blocking gives the Cardinals the edge in this one.

Defense

The Cardinals defense at times looks amazing and others looks like they just dont want to play. For the most part it is on the average to great side but they do have their poor games. They have great playmakers on defense especially in the secondary. Cromartie, Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle make up a fast hard hitting secondary that when they are on look like the best in the league. Dansby is a good linebacker but overall the line and linebackers are the weaker point of their above average defense.

The Packers are similar to the cardinals in they may not have the best defensive statistics in the league but on about 8 weeks this year they truly had the best 11 guys on defense at one time. If the defense starts strong they will look like a combination of the Bears, Ravens, and Steelers of their glory years. The main guy on the defensive side of the ball is former Heisman winner Charles Woodson. Woodson is my pick and should be the NFL’s pick for NFC defensive player of the year. Woodson is a big play Dback with 9 INTS 2 sacks 3 TDs and 4 forced fumbles. He is having his best season ever and is inspiring other players on the packers to have theirs too. Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, and Clay Matthews will soon be the best linebacker core in the league and are showing many signs of it this season. Besides Woodson, the secondary isn’t spectacular but doesn’t need to be.

Charles Woodson and a good young Linebacker core give the Packers the advantage on the Defensive side of the ball.

Posted in Aaron Rodgers, AJ Hawk, Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Cardinals, Charles Woodson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Packers, Playoffs, Ryan Grant, Tim Hightower | Leave a Comment »