Don’t worry, this one won’t be as long as my post on the Chiefs-Patriots game.
Since their bye week, the Packers have only beaten a single team who finished the year with at least 10 wins: The Minnesota Vikings. They beat the Chiefs and Packers in Weeks 2 and 3, but there was clearly something different about those teams then, Packers especially included.
Green Bay finished the regular season with the 11th ranked offense and 9th ranked defense according to Football Outsiders, and while they were 10th in overall DVOA, they were 19th in weighted DVOA, which places more emphasis on later games.
Eddie Lacy took the rarely seen huge step back in his 3rd year without suffering a major injury. Jordy Nelson’s absence still haunts the Packers, and there’s only so much that Aaron Rodgers can do with James Jones and Randall Cobb against a great defense. The Packers are a great team when they play bad teams, but they don’t look so great when they play against top competition.
The Cardinals are top competition. Tyrann Mathieu’s injury is a big deal, but they still have Patrick Peterson and the 3rd ranked defense by DVOA. Their offense pales in comparison to their defense, as it falls all the way to… 4th.
The Cardinals are simply a better team who has beaten better teams throughout the season, and they are the home team. All that leads us to point to the Cardinals in this game, and that’s before we mention the key X-factor. Bruce Arians coaches the Cards, and he had 2 weeks to prepare for the game. Mike McCarthy coaches the Packers, and he had 6 days to prepare for the game. Bruce Arians > Mike McCarthy.
This game won’t be the blowout that some are predicting, but it won’t be close, either. The Cardinals have been favored by about a touchdown or a little less throughout the week, and I think they’re gonna cover that spread and then some.
Pick: Cardinals win 31-17. This game will probably be the most boring of the week, but I predicted an ugly Pats win that could be worse.
P.S. If I’m right about these Saturday games being boring, then the NFL has a serious problem on its hands. The regular season sucked this year as I’ve been saying (along with many others) for awhile now, and last week consisted of mediocre-at-best games with 2 exciting finishes thrown in. The NFL had better hope I’m wrong.