By all accounts, this game should be a blowout. The Cardinals come into the game as 14-point underdogs. There should still be some intriguing matchups to watch. Patrick Peterson against Davante Adams is obvious. The giant Jimmy Graham against Budda Baker has potential to be a fun one. There are a handful of matchups in the game to get an eye on. Here are three that I’ll be watching.
Chandler Jones vs. David Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari comes into the game listed as questionable. There is no question that he is among the best left tackles in the NFL. Chandler Jones has 11 sacks on the year and 22 pressures. The Cardinals can keep it close if they can get to Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are actually near the bottom in the NFL on third down conversions. They are ranked 24th in the league. You wouldn’t think that, considering how good they are on offense. Jones has 4.5 sacks over the last three games, but he’s been consistently getting after the quarterback. As for Green Bay, even with their talented tackles, they are 21st in adjusted sack rate. You can get to Rodgers.
Jaire Alexander vs. Larry Fitzgerald
The Packers haven’t been very good at all when it comes to stopping the other teams top threats. I want to see Alexander on Fitzgerald for a few reasons. This is the ultimate rookie vs. veteran matchup. One is a crazy athletic that is cat-like quick. The other is more about subtle-ness and positioning. Both work for both players. With everything going on around him, it’s not fair to say it’s been a quiet season for Fitzgerald. He has scored five times, too. In the case of Alexander, he hasn’t been as good as the internet thinks. On the season he’s given up 7.8 yards per pass, which is good for 90th out of all corners. You can get open on him in the intermediate area of the field, right where Fitzgerald does work; see his touchdown against the Chargers.
Cardinals linebackers vs. Aaron Jones
The Packers are a very successful rushing offense. That is thanks to their offensive line as well as Aaron Jones. They will put your linebackers in a bind by running “split zone” and give Jones a two-way go. It’s difficult to stop Jones because he lets the lineman do all the work, so he’s patient, and then he’ll cutback on a dime. Next thing you know he’s 20 yards downfield.
For the Cardinals, it’s the opposite at linebacker. It’s one thing to be small. It’s another to play small. Arizona is both. Gerald Hodges is “next man up”, so we’ll see how that goes with the uptick in snaps. Deone Bucannon was ruled out yesterday, while Haason Reddick is questionable. Could we see Zeke Turner and Dennis Gardeck? Hodges said things would be simplified if the young guys have to play. They have played a total one one snap this year. So in your first extensive action, here’s a really good running game. Oh, they have Aaron Rodgers, too. Go get ‘em, rook.