Aaron Rodgers Says All Pressure Will Be on Cardinals in Playoff Matchup

Mike NorrisFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2016

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers pumps his fist as he walks off the field in the closing minutes of the team's NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. The Packers won 35-18. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers found their offense during Wild Card Weekend in a 35-18 victory over Washington. It was the most points the team had scored since Week 3, but it doesn't erase the fact that the Packers scored just 21 points in their final two games of the regular season, including a 38-8 blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16.

The two teams will meet again Saturday in the divisional round as the No. 2-seeded Cardinals host the No. 5-seeded Packers. Rodgers said his team is in the rare role of underdog, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com:

Well, the pressure's all going to be on them. They're coming off a tough loss at home against Seattle. Before that they blew us out. They're the Super Bowl favorites, and obviously the favorite team on Saturday night, so we've just got to go out, be loose, let it all hang out, because the pressure's all on that side.

However, NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders wasn't buying it:

A loss in the Wild Card Round would have been a failure for the Packers, but now that they have cleared that hurdle, Rodgers feels confident. He famously told fans—and any other critics— to "R-E-L-A-X" on 540 ESPN Milwaukee (via Tom Pelissero of USA Today) last season after Green Bay started 1-2. 

He was right, as the Packers finished the season with 11 wins in 13 games and came within an overtime score of beating the Seattle Seahawks and heading to the Super Bowl.

Now Rodgers is taking the same chill attitude into the team's rematch against Arizona, per Demovsky.

"Stuff happens all the time," the quarterback said. "We're all fans of sports; we know how it goes, anything can happen. We're going in as the underdogs. We're going to be loose and ready to go, and it's going to be their stadium, it's going to be rocking, but the pressure's going to be on them."

In reality, it's one of the few stances Rodgers can take. If he comes in overconfident after already having lost to Arizona, fans will ridicule him if he doesn't play well and the Packers lose. 

If they win, he'll be the hero for taking the underdogs to the NFC Championship Game and perhaps even the Super Bowl.

That's apparently what will happen if you just relax.