The Arizona Cardinals(10-5) meet the Green Bay Packers(10-5) in the first of likely two meetings this Sunday. The Cardinals are coming off a victory over the St. Louis Rams, in which they won 31-10 and recorded their first 10-win season in over 30 years.
The Packers are also coming off the destruction of a NFC West team, in which they dismantled the Seattle Seahawks44-10. The victory shows just how explosive the Packers can be, and what the Cardinals need to watch out for come Sunday. This week, things will be different, as the Cardinals and Packers could be resting starters after the first quarter. This is why there are only three keys to success, is it's also why they may seem like keys to success in the 1st round.
1. Contain the big play: The Packers opened their preseason meeting with the Cardinals, throwing the deep ball and attempting to rattle the Cardinals young corner - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Rodgers first deep pass was beautifully deflected by DRC, but that was the only thing the 2nd year corner did right that game. Rodgers completed multiple touchdowns on Cromartie's side of the field and left a nasty taste in the mouth of Cardinal's fans from around the stadium. The Packers will likely take that approach this week if the starting offense sees the field often.
2. Out-play the Packers starters: We all know this could potentially be a scrimmage between the two teams on Sunday. The Packers can no longer improve their playoff positioning, while the Cardinals will need everybody and their cousins to lose, in order to nab the #2 seed. Anything's possible, and if Ken Whisenhunt feels the Cardinals have a chance, he may play the starters throughout the game. Doing that will obviously give the Cardinals a better chance at victory, especially if the Packers only play their starters throughout the first few drives of the game.
3. Play healthy, don't show all your Cards: Since this should be the first of two meetings, playing conservative and vanilla might be right up Ken Whisenhunt's alley. Obviously this doesn't give the Cardinals success this week, but it would likely play into the Cardinals success in the first round when they show everything they've got. Another important key to the first round of the playoffs, is remaining healthy. Keeping certain players that are dealing with nagging injuries on the sideline should be priority number one, but the Cardinals need to also focus on keeping the players out of harms way.
Let's be honest - this match up doesn't mean much if the Cardinals have no shot at the #2 seed at the start of the game. It may seem more like a preseason game, or technically preseason match up #2. One thing to remember is that the Cardinals 2nd string team battered the Packers 2nd string team, so if this game is close in the second half with both team's starters on the bench, then the Cardinals could at least have a shot at 11 wins. What are your keys to the game?