Preview: Green Bay Packers at Cardinals

This game could be a preview of the Green Bay Packers' first playoff game, which will likely include a return trip to Arizona. This is their 2nd matchup of 2009, the Packers defeated the Cardinals by a score of 44-37 during the preseason, but that was the preseason. And most of the damage in that game was done by QB Matt Leinart. Though that might be the case again this week as neither team has a lot to play for.

The Cardinals could still end up with the 2nd seed and a bye week, but the desire to rest WR Larry Fitzgerald and help QB Kurt Warner avoid any future concussions might outweigh that benefit. I don't see how playing for the 5th or 6th seed, with no possibility of a bye week and a road game either way, can benefit the Packers. Especially since we don't even know who they'll be playing.

The official rankings, based on yardage, from NFL.com:

Team Run Offense Pass Offense Run Defense Pass Defense
Packers 14 8 1 10
Cardinals 26 10 18 22

Both teams should be able to throw against each other, but while the Packers can run against the Cardinals, it doesn't look like the Cardinals will have much success running against the Packers' No. 1 ranked run defense.

This is assuming both teams will play their starters. Ken Whisenhunt admitted the outcome of the Giants at Vikings game will have an impact whether he benches his starters. Mike McCarthy wouldn't say, and he said he would treat this week just like the first 15 games. Though Greg Bedard noted that McCarthy benched seven starters in the final regular season game before the 2007 playoffs despite avoiding the question earlier that week. Since NFL.com is running news stories on their front page speculating about how much playing time backup QB Matt Flynn will get on Sunday, it's a safe bet to assume that the Packers intend to bench at least some starters early in the game. 

Usually I try and predict the score, but I've got no idea if it turns out to be a glorified preseason game. I'll just pick the Packers to win.

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