Three Keys to the Packers-Cardinals Game
Pass Protection The Cardinals have an overlooked defensive line that registered 46 sacks in 2009, good for sixth highest in the NFL. Arizona is much more physical than they were last year and it was on display in early December against Minnesota. A big part of the Packers second half surge was better protection for Aaron Rodgers. Ironically, this is the same key for Arizona's offense. Kurt Warner will stay in the pocket and take a hit but history has proven that if you can rush Warner he is prone to turning the football over if you're in his face.
Balanced Playcalling There's no question the Packers have one of the best air attacks in the league but if there's a weakness in Arizona's defense it's against the run. Arizona finished 2009 17th against the run but in losses to Carolina, Tennessee and San Francisco the Cardinals were gutted, giving up more than 150 rushing yards to DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson and Frank Gore. The Packers may not reach that number today but to win they must get some production out of Ryan Grant.
Field Position At times Arizona can go vertical and throw deep to Larry Fitzgerald. Other times the Cardinals will dink and dunk, opting to move down the field incremental with quick passes to running back Tim Hightower. Either way Arizona is at their best when they light up the scoreboard. The Packers need to control the ball by running it but also must be careful not to give up too much ground on special teams. If Arizona routinely starts drives past their own 30 yard line they'll be able to attack in multiple ways. It sounds elementary but when the Cardinals score more than 21 points they win so if Arizona is lulled into a physical, grind-it-out contest they won't win.