3 reasons Cards will (and won't) beat Packers

Posted at 3:10 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-11 17:10:56-05

In the above video, ABC15's Craig Fouhy contends the Arizona Cardinals are a lock to defeat the Green Bay Packers when they meet in the divisional playoff round Saturday night in Glendale.

Fouhy says the Cardinals are simply playing too well to be beaten on their home field by a team that has struggled down the stretch.

"Take it to the bank, folks: Cardinals beat the Packers," he said.

But is Saturday's showdown at University of Phoenix Stadium really a sure thing for the home team? Hardly.

Yes, the Cardinals are a 7-point favorite to beat Green Bay, as they should be. But there are plenty of reasons to believe the Packers are capable of leaving Arizona with an upset victory.

Here are three reasons why the Cardinals will advance to the NFC Championship game -- and three reasons why their playoff run will last only one game.

The Cardinals will beat the Packers because:

1. They already have. Remember Christmas? Of course you do; it was less than three weeks ago. But do you know what's even more recent than that? The Cards' 38-8 stomping of the Packers on Dec. 27.

Arizona dominated Green Bay in every facet of the game, especially on defense: The Cards sacked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers eight times and returned two fumbles for touchdowns. Is there any real reason to think Saturday will be any different?

2. They're the better team. The Cardinals are the most well-rounded team in the NFL. They rank among the NFL's top eight teams in rushing offense, passing offense, rushing defense and passing defense.

Meanwhile, many experts have labeled the Packers as the worst remaining playoff team. That's hard to argue when you look at Green Bay's poor rushing defense and the offensive line's inability to protect Rodgers. Speaking of which...

3. They're healthier. Even without injured safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Cory Redding, the Cardinals are among the healthiest teams left in the playoffs, and guys like safety Rashad Johnson and wide receiver Michael Floyd have had an extra week to heel up from nagging injuries.

The Packers, on the other hand, are one of the most banged-up teams remaining, especially on the offensive line. Also, cornerback Sam Shields has been out for nearly a month with a concussion, and star wide receiver Jordy Nelson was lost to injury before the regular season began.

The Cardinals will lose to the Packers because:

1. Aaron Rodgers. Cards QB Carson Palmer has had an MVP-caliber season, but Rodgers has a major edge in the area of playoff experience. The defending NFL MVP has won seven postseason games, including a Super Bowl. Palmer, meanwhile, has yet to win a playoff game in his 13 NFL seasons.

Will experience matter on Saturday? If it does, the Cards will be at a significant disadvantage.

2. The Packers defend the pass well. Thanks to his defense, Palmer didn't have to do much in the Cards' first meeting with Green Bay -- but he will likely have to do more Saturday. That could be bad news, as the Packers are among the NFL's 10 best teams in several passing categories, including sacks and opponent passer rating.

Green Bay sacked Redskins QB Kirk Cousins six times last weekend. There could be plenty more where that came from on Saturday.

3. Home field might not matter. At least one-third of the fans in University of Phoenix Stadium for the Cards-Packers regular-season matchup were dressed in green and gold. That's likely to be the case again Saturday.

What's more, home teams are 0-4 thus far in the postseason. Home-field "advantage?" We'll see.