This will make for an interesting week. The Green Bay Packers, based on current playoff probabilities, will likely be playing the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix two weeks in a row.
The Packers, of course, finish up the regular season in Arizona this week. While it’s possible there could be something to play for, in all likelihood, both team’s playoff seeding will be determined before the game even begins. If it holds to current form, the Packers will be the fifth seed and the Cardinals the fourth seed, meaning the Packers will travel to Arizona again the following week for a wild card game.
The main question is who will win the NFC East and what ramifications that game will have on the seedings. Philadelphia (11-4) travels to Dallas (10-5) next week, with the winner capturing the East. The Packers have the edge over the Cowboys based on their head-to-head win, so if both teams lose, the Packers will remain fifth and with the better record, the Eagles will remain third and the Cardinals fourth.
If both the Eagles and Packers lose, the Packers will drop to the sixth seed. Dallas and Arizona will have the same record overall, in their division and in the conference and whatever arcane tiebreaker the NFL uses to determine the higher seed will produce the Cardinals as the fourth seed. The Cardinals would then host the sixth-seeded Packers.
If the Packers and Eagles both win, there’s not change in the seeding.
There are other scenarios where the Cardinals and Packers wouldn’t be matched up for the wild card game, but they revolve around the Bears beating the Vikings tonight, and we put no stock in the Chicago Bears doing anything positive this season.
What will be interesting is to see how the Packers and Cardinals approach Sunday’s game. In all likelihood, neither team is going to show the other their entire gameplan, making for a rather vanilla, preseason-like game.
In reality, the Packers don’t matchup very well with the Cardinals, so it’s unfortunate they’re likely going to draw them in the first round of the playoffs. The Cardinals have the best three-man receiving corp in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, as well as a gun-slinger in Kurt Warner.
As Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers demonstrated, the Packers aren’t very deep in the defensive backfield, so when the real Cardinals show up, it’s bound to be a shootout. The question is whether Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense can keep up.