Cardinals-Packers: Matchups That Matter

Chris FarmerCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2010

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03:  Center Scott Wells #63 of the Green Bay Packers prepares to snap the ball against the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Charles Woodson vs. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin

There is a large circle of media and fans alike that think Packers' CB Charles Woodson should be crowned the NFL's Defensive MVP immediately.

He very well could earn that title before game time, since it is likely we will hear the results of the voting process before Sunday afternoon's Packers-Cardinals rematch.

Woodson has had an outstanding year and has earned his reputation over his 12-year career. He'll have a chance to add to his legacy if he performs admirably against two of the game's best receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.

Woodson will likely be lined up primarily against Fitzgerald, but I'm sure his pads will come into contact with Boldin, as well.

In one-on-one coverage with Fitzgerald, experience favors Woodson, but the height advantage and hands go to Fitzgerald.

Both are Pro Bowlers with serious ball skills, so the question is: Who will have more tenacity? It is an even draw otherwise.

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Boldin is currently listed as questionable with knee and ankle issues, but if history repeats itself, he will find a way onto the field, regardless of how hobbled he is.

It is fair to assume that if he plays he will be gimpy, which will most certainly be a Packers advantage with one caveat: If Early Doucet rises to the challenge and continues to make his presence known, he could help offset the Boldin deficit.

Early has really been coming on strong as of late. It is clear the game has slowed down for him, he is playing with much more swagger, and he is a player conveniently in the mold of Boldin.

Aaron Rodgers vs. the Arizona Secondary

I am a big fan of Aaron Rodgers. What he has been able to accomplish after replacing a legend in a legendary football town is simply amazing.

With Peyton Manning's offensive line his team may have gone 14-2, too. Rodgers has some of the best touch on the ball of anyone in the game right now, especially deep.

With the emergence of budding star TE Jermichael Finley, the Packers' arsenal is downright scary: WR's Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson, not to mention being able to hand off or throw to Ryan Grant.

Two things need to happen if the Cardinals have any chance of shutting Rodgers down: Pro Bowl CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie needs to play and play well, and the Arizona pass rush needs to get to Rodgers early and often.

Rodgers-Cromartie is questionable with cleat knee—you know, when a knee gets gashed and bruised on another player's upturned cleats. OK, so I know that is not a medical term, but consider it coined.

Rodgers-Cromartie's fluidity of movement will have a lot to do with Rodger's success, or lack thereof. If he has has full range of movement it will limit the amount of available receiving options, as Rodgers-Cromartie is known to blanket opponents.

The pass rush is perhaps even more crucial than Cromartie's health.

In the Week 17 game, the Cardinals refused to show any aggressive packages and did not blitz one time. This is from a team whose bread and butter has been the sack—they finished with 43 sacks, just five shy of the NFL-leading 48 put up by the Vikings.

DE Calais Campbell is the third key Cardinal player who is listed as questionable for the game. He has a broken thumb, but may be able to play with a cast. Arizona fans hope so since he is tied with Pro Bowler Darnell Dockett for the team lead in sacks with seven.

The Packers offensive line made a name for themselves by allowing Rodgers to be sacked a league-tying 50 times, but in fairness, the majority of those came in the first half of the season. After eight games, Aaron was laid down a whopping 37 times, and only 13 times in the last eight.

The Cardinals hope to ramp up their blitz, and throw a flurry of confusing formations at his O-line to persuade them to get back to their bad habits.

If they can't, Rodgers could have a field day.

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