In the first NFC divisional round game, the final NFL game to air on NBC this season, the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals will square off for the second time in three weeks.
In the first game, the Packers put on a horror show. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked nine times, one more than the amount of points the team put up. The Cardinals defense steamrolled the Pack, and Arizona prevailed by a score of 38-8.
Last week, the Packers looked pretty solid. Despite trailing 11-0 in the second quarter they scored 35 of the games final 42 points, winning at Washington 35-18.
That said, the Packers are not rolling. They looked dead for the first 20 minutes of the Wild Card game last week and ultimately beat a Washington Redskins team that was only in the postseason because the Dallas Cowboys, a team that won 12 games a year ago, was hampered by injuries all year.
The Arizona Cardinals are as complete a team as any in the NFL. Carson Palmer has looked like the MVP candidate many expected him to be when he was drafted in 2003, rookie running back David Johnson has been incredible of late, the offensive like is solid, the receiving core led by future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald has been terrifi, and the defense is elite.
The Packers are a solid team, and still are one of the top 10 teams in the league. However, the absence of Jordy Nelson has made them the offense appear pedestrian on various occasions, and while I don’t see another 38-8 game, I still see the Cardinals winning. I’m expecting the Packers defense to keep the game close, at around 24-20 in the 4th quarter, before the Cardinals close out the game with a score.
Prediction: Packers 20, Cardinals 31.