Packers, name of the test with which Cardinals must validate their contender tag

Packers, name of the test with which Cardinals must validate their contender tag

The Arizona Cardinals passed the first notable qualifying test a few weeks ago and Thursday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers is the challenge they must overcome to be truly taken seriously as NFL contenders.

In Week 4, the Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Rams on the road in a win that attracted the attention of the league and that, so far, stands as the most important victory in their undefeated march, which they seek to extend. to start a season with eight wins for the first time in its history.

The challenge will not be easy for quarterback Kyler Murray and company, as they will face the Packers who are the first team to win six consecutive games after losing in Week 1 by more than 35 points.

When the Packers announced the losses of their two main receivers, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, both due to COVID-19, the challenge for the Cardinals suddenly seemed easier, but the Arizonans were not without losses, after reporting that the defensive end JJ Watt would be unavailable with a shoulder injury that could even leave him out for the rest of the season.

In a sense, Watt’s absence would remarkably balance things out in terms of both teams’ odds of winning.

However, Aaron Rodgers and company should also not consider the task of facing the Arizona defense without Watt, which has limited its opponents to 20 or fewer points in five consecutive games, as an easier task.

In fact, the Cardinals defense seems to adapt positively to Watt’s absence, either through injury or scheme, as the small sample provided by ESPN Stats & Information indicates.

In the 326 plays Watt has been on the field, Arizona’s defense allows 5.3 yards average per run and 5.7 yards average per play. Those numbers drop to 3.8 in both categories without Watt on the field.

A similar phenomenon happens with the Packers on offense. Over the past three seasons, Green Bay is 6-0 without Adams and Rodgers-led offense is averaging 32.8 per game in those meetings.

Each year, the NFL calendar features games that alone create excitement and others that, such as the Packers-Cardinals, are shaped as the regular season progresses.

Few saw this Thursday night match in Week 8 as the one that largely defines the NFC’s first seed in the Playoffs and one in which, too, one of its protagonists can remove a historical yoke.

Rodgers has lost three straight games to the Cardinals (including Playoffs) and is 2-4 against the Cardinals, who are one of three teams to have a winning record against the quarterback (Buccaneers, 4-2; Colts, 3-1) .

In addition, the Packers, founded 100 years ago, are looking to beat a 7-0 team for the first time since 1934.

As Green Bay and Rodgers seek a triumph with long and short-term historical overtones, in addition to maintaining their firm step in 2021, the Cardinals are after a victory that allows them to maintain their perfect march and validate it as a Super Bowl contender.

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