Packers-Cardinals: Week 17 Outlook

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2010

One of the best games of the season is less than three days away.  That's right, it's the Green Bay Packers v Arizona Cardinals.  We've all heard about it, we all know about it, and we all know how much this matchup means to the NFC Playoff picture.

The Packers, who are currently sitting at 10-5, are heading to the University of Phoenix Stadium with more than a point to prove.  They are already in the playoffs, and that's old news.  This team will face, however, the strong-headed defense of the Arizona Cardinals, which is relentless and dominates games when an opposing team's offense is playing at its worst.

Arizona still has a shot at the No. 2 spot in the NFC Playoff picture.  With a decision from head coach Ken Whisenhunt on whether to rest their starters or not, expect Arizona to start the game all guns blazing as they look to gain a considerable lead and then bench their starters for the remaining quarters.

The key for either team to take the win in this game is defense.  Both teams have similar style offenses with a good mixture of run and pass.  Although, with that said, expect this game to play into whichever team's defense is playing the more dominant style of football.  Green Bay and Dom Capers have the 3-4 transition working perfectly, and Arizona's defensive penetration is among the best in the NFL

Whichever team's defense gets going early, expect it to take over.

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Games with Meaning:

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00PM Sunday on Fox.

It's all over for New York.  However, they could still throw a spanner in the works of Minnesota, who has been off to a shaky and unpredictable start in the past two games. 

The Giant offense hasn't been too poor as of late, but it hasn't been easy on the eye either.  Giant fans are still upset over their final home game loss at the Meadowlands this week, and so is the entire locker room.  The Giants have a chance to redeem themselves and provide a little hope for the future with this game, but nothing more than that.

On the other side, Brett Favre is going through his usual December-to-forget period, and Adrian Peterson is causing more woes in the Viking offense then need be.  If New York puts pressure on Brett Favre and stops Adrian Peterson early, expect the Giants to get a meaningless but impressive win over the Vikings.

Game of the Week:

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, 4:15PM Sunday on Fox.

It's hard to argue against how the Eagles are playing right now.  The same can be said for Dallas. 

Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson are playing lights out, and it seems that cornerbacks are a mere hurdle for the Eagles wide receivers right now.  Away games aren't the Eagles' forte, however, and they could get rattled early in Texas.  If the Eagles score the first touchdown in the game, it would be wise to put some money on them for the win.  Not that I am encouraging gambling, but the Eagles are third in the NFL on points scored right now, and that says a lot for a team that is looking for a long January of football.

Dallas is playing extremely well also.  Tony Romo is finally looking like the guy who is the future of the Cowboys, and Jerry Jones' smile widens with every game the Cowboys win.  Miles Austin is having a possible Offensive Player of the Year season, and to top it all off, linebacker DeMarcus Ware is fit and healthy and ready to dominate.

Anyone who doesn't watch this game isn't a true football fan.  I promise you that you won't be wasting your time.  This battle always promises a highlight reel for the ages.

Interesting Match Up:

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets, 8:20PM Monday on CBS.

Playoff implications are on the line for both teams.  If LaMarr Woodley's prediction proves correct and the Bengals lay down to stop the Steelers from reaching the playoffs, all hell will break lose.

To cap that off, Chad Ochocinco and Darrelle Revis have exchanged friendly words and are promising a blockbuster event. 

With two great offenses like these colliding, it's hard to argue against them.

Other Games to Watch For:

New England Patriots at Houston Texans, 1:00PM Sunday on Fox.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins, 1:00PM Sunday on CBS.

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:15PM Sunday on Fox.

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