The Green Bay Packers (11-6) will be looking to forget their dismal performance at Arizona less than three weeks ago when they visit the Cardinals (13-3) again Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Packers believe they got their mojo back with a 35-18 victory against the Redskins as two-point road underdogs last Sunday, but they will be facing a much more difficult opponent in the Cardinals, who won the first meeting 38-8 as six-point home favorites in Week 16.
Point spread: The Cardinals opened as seven-point favorites; the total was 48.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 27.9-16.1 Cardinals
Why the Packers can cover the spread
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was smiling a lot during last week’s wild-card win at Washington, and with good reason. His team got the matchup it wanted and exploited the Redskins defensively following a rough start that saw the home team jump out to an 11-0 lead. Rodgers did not do anything special but did not turn the ball over, something he did in the first meeting with Arizona by throwing an interception.
Succeeding away from home in the postseason is nothing new for the Packers, who made their successful Super Bowl run five years ago by beating the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears on the road.
They have also played extremely well in the role of underdogs during the month of January with an 8-1-1 mark against the spread in their last 10 games under that scenario. Combine that with the fact that they have gone 3-1 straight-up and ATS in the past four meetings with the Cardinals as dogs, and they have a great chance to stay within a touchdown here.
Why the Cardinals can cover the spread
Arizona thoroughly dominated Green Bay in the first meeting, limiting Rodgers to just 151 passing yards, his second-lowest total of the season. The Cardinals sacked him eight times and also made sure the Packers did not get on track with their running game either. Defensively, they could not play much better with two touchdowns in the third quarter, the same number quarterback Carson Palmer threw in the second.
As good as Rodgers has been throughout his career, he has never beaten an NFC West team in the playoffs, tallying an 0-4 record. That includes a pair of losses to the San Francisco 49ers, one to the Seattle Seahawks in last year’s NFC Championship Game and one against Arizona in overtime the year after the Cardinals went to the Super Bowl with Kurt Warner under center. Arizona is also 5-2 SU and ATS in its past seven January home games, including that last postseason meeting with Green Bay.
The playoff experience of Rodgers is too tough to pass up in this game, especially since the Packers are slightly bigger underdogs this time around. The Cardinals enjoyed a great regular season but went only 1-5 ATS in their last six home games down the stretch. Arizona may win again, but it will be a lot closer with Green Bay covering.
The Packers are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at home.
The Packers are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games as underdogs in January.
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