Surely, not much can be taken from the Green Bay Packers’ 33-7 drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner played only one quarter and threw only six passes and the Cardinals employed a vanilla game plan.
But hold the phone for a minute.
The Packers not only demonstrated that they can beat the Cardinals – the team was up 14-0 when Warner left the game – but that they know how to beat the Cardinals and have the tools to do it.
The formula here is simple: 1. win the time of possession battle, and 2. win the turnover battle.
When the real Arizona Cardinals’ offense shows up, the Packers want to keep them off the field. On Sunday, the Packers won the time of possession battle handily, 37:27 to 22:33, with a mix of tough running and short passes. And while it doesn’t mean as much, because they all came when the backups were in, the Packers were plus-two in turnovers.
The facts are these. The Packers’ receivers are better than the Cardinals’ cornerbacks and can beat them one-on-one, which lends itself to a game plan peppered with short routes like the slants and wide receiver screens you saw yesterday. The Packers also have a huge advantage with tight ends Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee, who can beat any linebacker the Cardinals might put on them. Mix in some hard running and the Cardinals’ defense is going to be on the field for a long time, making it one tired and beat-up unit.
On the other side of the ball, it can be said that the Cardinals’ receivers are better than the Packers’ cornerbacks, with the exception of Charles Woodson. However, the Cardinals have the best trio of receivers in the game, with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston. Jarrett Bush is going to have to cover one of these guys, which is a huge advantage for Arizona.
Fortunately for the Packers, the Cardinals aren’t a threat in the running game. They finished 28th in the league with a 93.4 yards per game average.
The Cardinals will score, but they’ll have a hard time controlling the game if the Packers are able to duplicate what they did on Sunday.
If the Packers’ defense remains fresher than the Cardinals’ because the offense controls the clock, then Green Bay should have no problem moving on to the second round.