This year’s season finale brings the Green Bay Packers into the desert to challenge the reigning NFC Champions. The Cardinals still have an outside chance of securing a first round bye, needing a win, coupled with losses by Minnesota and Philadelphia. Here are the five players that will have a say on whether the Cardinals can hold up their end of the bargain.
Boldin enters this week’s game needing a mere 14 yards to ensure a franchise record fifth 1,000-yard receiving season. If Minnesota wins the early game, his minutes will be limited. Keep an eye on Boldin and look for an early impact. The Packers defense recently surrendered over 500 yards to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. This bodes well for Boldin’s chances of snagging another Cardinals franchise record.
The home squad will be in need of a quality stopper on the front line. With the presence of Ryan Grant in the Packers’ backfield, Dockett must be on his game in order to prevent another stellar day from the running back. Grant has scored five touchdowns in his last three games and has 10 total touchdowns on the season. As a recently dubbed Pro Bowler, Dockett needs to show exactly why he was selected.
If Minnesota does win, look for Leinart to have another extended outing. It is arguable as to whether Coach Whisenhunt wants to keep Leinart for the long run, as he was a draft pick of Dennis Green, not his staff.
Leinart was average in his lone start this season, completing 21 of 31 with no interceptions and no touchdowns. If he gets another shot this week, he will have to show more than that if he is going to persuade Whisenhunt to seriously consider him the future.
Tim Hightower/Beanie Wells:
The running back core must protect the football in the season finale. Coach Whisenhunt will undoubtedly be watching to determine which of his backs he can trust the most once playoffs get under way.
This year the backs have combined for a total of seven fumbles, most of those coming from Hightower. Ball security is definitely the top priority heading into the week 17 and will play a large role in deciding the post season depth chart.
With the loss of Mike Gandy for the remainder of the season, Bridges must prove that he can step in and fill the void. Bridges did an incredible job against the vaunted Vikings defense and has remained solid since. He has allowed two sacks this season, but has yet to commit a penalty. The lack of mental lapses is a trait that must be a breath of fresh air for Whisenhunt. The Cardinals are one of the top ten most penalized teams in the National Football League.
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