Eschewing the tactic of resting starters and treating the season finale as a glorified exhibition game, the Green Bay Packers dismantled the Arizona Cardinals 33-7 on Sunday, setting up a playoff rematch in the desert slated for next Sunday.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wrapped up a Pro Bowl season with an efficient performance, throwing only five incompletions and accounting for two touchdowns, while the defense pitched a near-shutout in a resounding win.
And while some will question whether head coach Mike McCarthy made the right choice in keeping his foot on the gas pedal heading into the postseason, it's clear that the Packers have become quite comfortable in the valley.
"They've (the Cardinals) got a lot to think about," said Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly after the game.
Like allowing 71 points to the prolific Packer offense in their first two meetings in Glendale, or the fact that they were very nearly shut out for the first time since 2003.
Meanwhile, McCarthy allowed an offense that came into the desert averaging 32.6 points per game over their last six contests to stay sharp as they held to that average again on Sunday.
The defense was able to put another strong outing between them and their atrocious performance in Pittsburgh two weeks ago.
Blame it on a vanilla game plan or that Minnesota's early victory ensured Arizona only a wild-card spot, but the fact remains that the Cardinals have been unable to stay with the Packers so far this season.
Coupling the 33-7 rout with the 38-10 lead the Packers piled up on Arizona's starters in the preseason has to give Green Bay a great deal of confidence heading into their playoff tilt.
But did the Packers give up a key strategic advantage by playing their starters and treating the contest as a legitimate game?
Both teams have 15 games worth of game tape to break down heading into their playoff matchup, and at this point, there is no reinventing the wheel.
It's about execution and attitude this time of the year, and the Packers playing their starters to the end serves them well on both fronts.
Deciding to finish strong was an aggressive move by Coach McCarthy and his staff that allowed the Packers to keep the rhythm and sharpness that they have established over their torrid 7-1 finish.
It also allowed the team to send another message to a team they knew they were likely going to meet one week later.
We're better than you.
And after seeing how the teams have matched up during their first two meetings, it's tough to see how they won't be better again this Sunday.
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