Big Red Blog: Uphill battle for Cardinals

Ken Whisenhunt (Getty)

In the midst of a four-game skid, things won't get any easier this week as the Cardinals square-off against Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

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Uphill battle this week for Cardinals

Posted by Brad Wilbricht
Thursday, November 1 - 10:15 AM

In the midst of a four-game skid, the Cardinals will hit the road again this week to face Green Bay. While the Packers' performance last week against Jacksonville was very underwhelming, they're still considered one of the best teams in the NFL and will be a stiff task for an Arizona team that's been spinning its wheels of late.

Arizona proved its capable of pulling a shocker on the road – see this year's earlier win at New England – but this certainly appears to be an uphill battle for the Cardinals. Arizona has been ineffective on the road of late dropping outings against St. Louis and Minnesota and the hostile environment of Lambeau Field should be an even more difficult venue to prevail in.

Offensively, Aaron Rodgers and company need no introduction. Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and while Green Bay's running game has been inconsistent at best, Rodgers is capable of putting his team on his back.

Rodgers has already racked up 21 touchdown passes and is completing a crisp 69 percent of his passes. Furthermore, he has a QB rating of 107.9 – a scary stat considering that his performance has been a bit uneven at times this year.

One of the few areas that Arizona has excelled in is pass defense (allowing 193 yards per game) but slowing down Rodgers and the Packers' high-powered passing attack will be the ultimate challenge.

Patrick Peterson was beat often in slot coverage last week against San Francisco and Randall Gay has been a liability all season long in that area. Meanwhile, Green Bay's Randall Cobb is quickly becoming one of the best slot receivers around and if Jordy Nelson returns from injury, it will make him that much more difficult to contain.

On the flip side for the Packers, their defense remains a relatively explosive unit capable of big plays, but it's far from a dominating group. Green Bay ranks 19th defending the pass allowing nearly 240 yards per game and ranks 12th against the run giving up 104 yards per contest. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their sputtering offense will have a hard time exploiting those weaknesses.

The biggest concern for Arizona remains the offensive line where it continues to lack any type of consistency. Clay Matthews has already accumulated nine sacks and is eager to face off against the beleaguered group in the trenches. As a team, Green Bay is tied with the Cardinals atop the league with 26 sacks and should have John Skelton running for his life early and often on Sunday.

Even though Arizona is tied with the Packers for the league lead in sacks, their inability to protect the quarterback has overshadowed that success on the other side of the ball. While neither team has done a good job of keeping its signal caller upright (the two teams are ranked at the bottom of the NFL in that category) Arizona has been far worse allowing 39 sacks compared to 28 for the Packers.

This could be considered a second straight must-win game for the Cardinals and while that sense of urgency can result in a win, the same logic didn't hold true last week against San Francisco. Arizona simply doesn't have the horses to compete with the Packers on their home turf and could be staring at another lopsided loss.

Prediction: Green Bay 31 Arizona 17

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