This Saturdays playoff matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals provides us some intriguing angles that we can take a look at. The Packers will be looking to avenge a horrible 38-8 loss to the Cardinals in Week 16 and keep their playoff hopes alive.
I touched base last week on the slew of injuries Green Bay has taken to their offensive line. When the Cardinals hosted the Packers in Week 16, Green Bay was without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari. Don Barclay took over duties and was demoralized by Dwight Freeney, who recorded three sacks and forced one of Aaron Rogers two fumbles that day.
What might also be lost in translation is the fact that starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga departed early in the game, leaving Green Bay scrambling for answers. The results were ugly, with Arizona recording nine sacks total while racking up 21 points off turnovers.
Offensive guard T.J Lang was asked about the Week 16 loss to the Cardinals after their Wild Card win and was quoted, “The most embarrassing loss I’ve ever been a part of.” The Cardinals outgained the Packers 381-178 in total yards and dominated every facet of the game.
These injuries are directly correlated to the offensive woes of the Packers. Green Bay hosted the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17 for the NFC North marbles, opting to use Second Team All-Pro offensive guard Josh Sutton at the left tackle position. Sutton allowed two sacks playing in his unnatural position, and the Packers subsequently lost.
Against the Washington Redskins in last Sundays Wild Card matchup, it was JC Tretter’s turn taking place of Bakhtiari. Aside from a first quarter safety, the Packers kept Rodgers clean for the rest of the game as the Redskins defense failed to record any sacks after the safety.
It appears that Green Bay will finally have a healthy offensive line in this week’s tilt against Arizona. Teams that are in the playoffs often keep injury reports vague and minimal to keep the opposition guessing. With a cohesive unit in the trenches, the Packers can play their up-tempo style of offense and in return have the potential to light up the scoreboard.
”It’s about the rhythm,” Rodgers said of his offensive line after their last victory. “When you get into a rhythm with the pass protection, those guys were able to have some positive plays after the safety, and started to feel good about the ability to protect. Then we ran the ball well. Anytime you run the ball well, that’s going to take some pressure off those guys.”
Green Bay is currently a 7-point underdog in their divisional matchup against Arizona. Make no mistake about it, this news has hit the ears of the Packers players. “We’ve got to have the same attitude that we came into (last) week with, that nobody outside this locker room believes in us,” Lang was quoted after being asked about the Week 16 loss. “We seem to be everybody’s underdog right now.”
If there’s ever a player that thrives with a chip on their shoulder, it’s Aaron Rogers. Green Bay and company have been here before, their tried and tested and will be ready to go for their second trip to the desert this year. With what feels like an ocean of points I’ll gladly side with the Packers nation and will probably have a splash on the ML as well.