Thursday Night Football Preview: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals

Grant Mitchell

As if midweek football did not already bring enough excitement, NFL fans around the country will get a special treat this week when the Green Bay Packers hit the road to take on the surging Arizona Cardinals.

Green Bay will be playing without two of their premier playmakers, Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, both of whom are on the COVID list, while the home-based Cardinals will be looking to protect the league’s last remaining undefeated record.

The winner of this game will gain control of the NFC, so get ready for one of the best and wildest matchups the National Football League has to offer.

The Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers have won six straight after an embarrassment during opening week, riding behind the stellar play of last year’s Most Valuable Player, quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packer legend has raised his team to sixth in Real Quarterback Rating, climbing four spots from last week. Of course, they will be significantly hindered without Adams and Lazard, but Rogers has produced his fair share of magic in the past with a variety of targets.

Aside from their strength in the passing game, Green Bay has also benefited from a defense that ranks ninth in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating and 12th in Defensive Rusher Rating, providing the offense with the necessary support on the other side of the football. With that being said, their line ranks third-worst in Defensive Hog Index, which does not bode well against a top-10 offensive unit in Arizona’s O-Line.

The Packers already have their division wrapped up for all intents and purposes, but Thursday’s contest was supposed to provide a litmus test as to their true capabilities; with Adams, in particular, missing the action, it will not be as objective of a measuring stick, though it will still provide the Cheeseheads a chance to show that they are a true player for the Super Bowl once again.

The Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have been looking like the best team in football through the first seven weeks, most recently beating the Houston Texans 31-5 last week. They are the only team yet to suffer a loss and will be getting even stronger with the return of Chandler Jones and the further assimilation of former Philadelphia Eagle Zach Ertz.

A major factor in the Cardinals’ success has been QB Kyler Murray, whose efforts have vaulted the team to second in Socreability, fifth in Real Quarterback Rating, and seventh in Offensive Rusher Rating. Flanked by a list of weapons that includes DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Rondale Moore, Ertz, James Conner, and Chase Edmonds, the Cardinals offense is a physical representation of the old cliche “pick your poison.”

Defensively, the Cards are also incredibly sound— their most impressive achievement is a second-place standing in Bendability, which has come from a roster designed to blend youthful athleticism with veteran experience. An offseason move for J.J. Watt is paying dividends for an outfit capable of making plays at all levels.

Final Thought: Too Much to Overcome

Although the Cardinals opened as favorites, the loss of Adams could have still been able to be overcome— the ensuing loss of Lazard, however, means that the Packers will be without two of their most trusted playmakers, which should give Arizona enough of a cushion to control the game.

Kyler Murray is known for being an electrifying athlete, but he is quietly leading the league in completion percentage; with his efficiency being so high, it will take a once-in-a-lifetime performance from the Green Bay defense to slow him down.

The smart money is on the Cardinals this week, and if push comes to shove, for them to cover as well.