Cardinals vs. Packers: Stats, matchups and connections

Jonathan Daniel

A look at the numbers and connections between these two teams.


It's here at last. The 2013 season gets underway beginning Friday night with the Arizona Cardinals taking on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. It was an interesting offseason for the Cardinals, as team president Michael Bidwill did his best Donald Trump impersonation by firing everyone but the janitors, it seems.

Despite it being just a preseason game, there is a lot to look for and many players to watch as they battle to climb the depth chart -- Seth Cox gave us three such players to watch.

Here is a look at some statistics for this matchup and a few other nuggets of goodness.

Stats:

Quarterback Carson Palmer and his starting offense will see the field for about 15 plays Friday night. They need all the time against the opposition they can get, but a 15-play allotment is pretty standard for a first preseason game.

Carson_palmer_vs

The 2012 season was proof for the Cardinals that an NFL franchise cannot succeed without an able quarterback. A good enough signal-caller can win football games despite a lack of talent around him on offense.

For example, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked an NFL-high 51 times last season. His rushing attack also struggled, as Green Bay averaged just 3.93 yards per carry (ranked No. 22).

Rodgers' defense was adequate, surrendering exactly 21 points per game (No. 11) and notching 47 sacks (No. 4).

He had a terrible offensive line, a bad running game and a good defense. Doesn't that sound like the M.O. of a certain team for whom we cheer every Sunday?

Yet, the Cardinals finished 5-11 and in last place in the NFC West, while the Packers finished 11-5 and won the NFC North en route to the No. 3 seed in the conference.

What was the difference?

Oh, not much. Just 49.9 passer rating points. Rodgers led the NFL with a 108.0 passer rating, while the repulsive upheaval at quarterback for the Cardinals produced a combined 63.1 passer rating.

Rodgers_vs

Quarterback play gets teams to the playoffs. If you don't believe me, check out this piece I put together for Cold, Hard Football Facts. The rundown: the top 10 quarterbacks drafted since 1991 (minimum 1,000 passes) have a record of 737-422 (.635), while the bottom 10 sport a record of just 251-327 (.434).

That's where Palmer comes in. He is ranked No. 11 among active quarterbacks in CHFF's Real QB Rating, the statistic around which that piece is centered (Rodgers is No. 1 all-time, in case you didn't read the piece).

The matchup:

We won't see much from the starters on either sideline, and there's a good chance Rodgers won't even play. That means the newest quarterback for the Packers, Vince Young, will get a lot of playing time.

It isn't known how well Young can run anymore, but if he can still get up and go, it will be a good regular-season primer for the defense to see a mobile quarterback. It especially will be useful for the new additions to the roster who have yet to face the two division rivals to the West and North -- notably, all the rookie defenders and veterans like outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy and cornerback Jerraud Powers.

Daryl Washington is listed as the third-string inside linebacker for now, and this reason from Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic makes complete sense:

Washington sharpening his skills against a mobile quarterback is perfect, as he will be tasked with spying Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson once he's free to play regular-season football.

This will be the 22nd time the Cardinals and Packers have met in the preseason. Arizona is an ugly 6-15 in the previous 21 matchups and just 2-7 when playing at Green Bay. Including those 21 preseason games, this will be the 94th game between these two teams (not including the 1944 season, when the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers combined teams to make up for so many players serving in World War II. They adopted the name, "Card-Pitt," and played the Pack twice -- losing both games by a combined score of 69-27).

Connections:

The Cardinals have three former Packers on the roster. Wide receiver Kerry Taylor signed with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011 and was there for the preseason. Defensive end Ronald Talley signed with them as a UDFA in 2009 and spent that season on the practice squad. Offensive guard Daryn Colledge was drafted by the Packers in Round 2 (47th overall) of the 2006 draft and played five seasons with the team. He played in all 80 regular season games over that time with 76 starts, including all 48 games over his final three seasons. Colledge was the starting left guard during their historic run from wild card team to Super Bowl champions in 2010.

The Packers have one former Cardinals player on their roster. Cornerback James Nixon signed in Arizona as a UDFA in 2012 and spent the preseason in Flagstaff with the team. Also, head coach Mike McCarthy played football at Scottsdale Community College in 1984, and receiver Randall Cobb's cousin, receiver Billy Williams, was drafted by Arizona in Round 7 of the 1995 draft. He did not appear in a game for the team.

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