The NFC wild card race is down to three teams and the Cardinals will face off against a somewhat familiar opponent if they fail to receive a first-round bye. Arizona is slated to play either the Packers, who travel to the desert this Sunday, or the loser of the matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys. The Cardinals defeated Dallas last season in a game that helped put Arizona on the map as a legitimate postseason contender and knocked off Philadelphia in the NFC Championship en route to a Super Bowl berth.
While Sunday's game at University of Phoenix Stadium will be a preview of playoff football, Green Bay's defense could be the difference. The Cardinals and Packers both feature dynamic offenses with Arizona averaging nearly 355 yards per game while Green Bay has racked up over 380 yards per contest. The Packers' defense trails only Minnesota in the NFC allowing a mere 291 yards per game. On paper, Green Bay is one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, ranking third in total defense and fourth in offense.
One area where Green Bay could be exploited is in the secondary. Although, they've accumulated 23 interceptions, there have been holes in the Packers' pass defense at times this season. RB Beanie Wells and the Cardinals' running game has been improving all year long bur Arizona's aerial assault is still the team's most potent weapon. QB Kurt Warner remains one of the league's top signal callers and wideouts Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald each look to surpass the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
If the Cardinals manage to win this coming Sunday, they will have finished completely opposite of last season. After faltering down the stretch a year ago, many had written Arizona off heading into the playoffs. However, with a second straight postseason berth and a strong finish to the regular season, the Cardinals may still be flying under the radar but won't be the underdog story they were last year.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at email@example.com
or click here to access the AZRedReport.com message boards.