Packers vs. Cardinals: Odds, Stat Predictions for 2016 NFC Divisional Game

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Packers vs. Cardinals: Odds, Stat Predictions for 2016 NFC Divisional Game
Alex Brandon/Associated Press
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hopes to post huge numbers against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday.

NFL observers won't have a hard time figuring out what the most notable number between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals is going into Saturday's NFC Divisional Round.

Try 38-8, the final outcome in favor of the home team in Week 16 when Arizona stomped Aaron Rodgers and the Packers into submission.

The loss sent the Packers down an 0-2 spiral, allowing the Minnesota Vikings to march into Lambeau Field and seize the NFC North before the Pack recovered in last weekend's opening round to stay alive.

Arizona got slapped in 36-6 fashion by Seattle to close the season, but shut it down after one half of football and spent last week sleeping and prepping for what many figured would be a matchup with the Packers.

So it's rematch time at the same venue with plenty of numbers to analyze and predict before crowning a projected winner. Let's do so below.

Game Details

When: Saturday, January 16, at 8:15 p.m. ET

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

Television: NBC

Tickets: ScoreBig.com

Over/Under: 50

Spread: Arizona (-7)

Stat Predictions

Green Bay Packers

Player Predicted Stats
QB Aaron Rodgers 22-35, 245 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
RB Eddie Lacy 15 rush, 64 yards, 1 TD
WR James Jones 6 rec, 41 yards, 1 TD
WR Randall Cobb 8 rec, 114 yards, 1 TD
TE Richard Rodgers 4 rec, 34 yards

Author's Predictions

Green Bay posts plenty of impressive numbers. For example, without Jordy Nelson, Rodgers still completed better than 60 percent of his passes this year with 31 touchdowns to eight picks. A team-high 890 of those yards and eight scores went to veteran James Jones.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is what the Packers were able to pull off last week in Washington to stay alive in the playoffs. Green Bay won 35-18 while Rodgers only took one sack, Eddie Lacy rushed for 63 yards and a score and James Starks added 53 and a score of his own.

What's concerning for the Packers going into a game against a team that already walloped them once at the same venue is the "why" to those numbers in Washington. 

For example, the Packers rushing for 141 yards and a pair of scores was quite the anomaly based on their season-long numbers, a result only made possible by Washington's 26th-ranked run defense.

Rodgers only taking one sack? That's a rarity as well considering he suffered 46 sacks on the season. Washington couldn't apply pressure because the unit couldn't stop the rush.

Perhaps most concerning of all is the fact head coach Mike McCarthy knows there's no hiding who either team is Saturday, according to the team's Twitter account:

Lacy and others won't find nearly the same success on the ground against Arizona's sixth-ranked rush defense, meaning Rodgers will be under fire more often, which will negatively impact his numbers.

What worked against Washington won't work against Arizona, and folks only have to turn back the clocks a few weeks to see the proof.

Arizona Cardinals

Player Predicted Stats
QB Carson Palmer 24-34, 319 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
RB Andre Ellington 10 rush, 44 yards
RB David Johnson 6 rec, 84 yards, 1 TD
WR Michael Floyd 7 rec, 65 yards, 1 TD
WR Larry Fitzgerald 5 rec, 45 yards, 1 TD
WR John Brown 4 rec, 85 yards

Author's Predictions

The McCarthy quote certainly applies to Arizona.

When a team has corners such as Patrick Peterson that can apply man coverage at the line of scrimmage while rushers such as Dwight Freeney (eight sacks) can pin their ears back and attack a miserable line, a 38-8 result tends to happen.

Rotoworld's Evan Silva put it best:

Palmer's going to have plenty of chances to do damage against the Packers with the way his defense can get the ball back in a hurry.

Granted, Green Bay ranked sixth against the pass this year, but that didn't stop Michael Floyd from catching six passes for 111 yards in the first meeting, nor did it prevent someone such as David Johnson from breaking off 88 yards on three catches out of the backfield.

With big-play threats at literally every level of the field, including John Brown deep (he caught three passes for 25 yards and a score in the first game), season-long defensive numbers tend to go out the window, especially if the defense is on the field getting gassed because its own offense cannot sustain a drive.

Balance won't be an issue for the Cardinals, either, not with Green Bay ranking 21st against the rush to close the season and letting Alfred Morris act like it was 2012 by gaining 50 yards on just 11 carries.

When the Cardinals choose to run, the lanes should be there as Green Bay backpedals to keep pace with Arizona's wealth of passing options, making for a big day for everyone.

Prediction

Silly mistakes doomed the Packers in the first meeting between these teams as Rodgers threw a pick and the offense lost three fumbles.

This matchup should be closer, but again, there are only so many wrinkles a team can throw into a game plan at this point of the season. Arizona is a nightmare matchup for Green Bay, and in the end it will show on the field again.

Look for Rodgers to take better care of the football this time around with more quick-hitting plays to neutralize the rush, but don't expect him to be able to compensate for his struggling defense.

Palmer and Co. have the explosiveness on both sides of the ball to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Cardinals 24, Packers 17

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and accurate as of January 13. All advanced metrics courtesy of Pro Football FocusAll betting information courtesy of Odds Shark.

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