Cardinals Could Face Packers Back-to-Back

The Arizona Cardinals could host the Green Bay Packers in back-to-back weeks if the NFC playoff seedings remain the same. The Packers will now focus on how to defeat the reigning NFC champions twice.

Now that the Packers are bound for the postseason after a one-year hiatus, the biggest question facing them is how to handle the regular-season finale Sunday at the Arizona Cardinals.

They conceivably could be right back at University of Phoenix Stadium the following weekend to play the Cardinals again in the wild-card round of the NFC playoffs.

"That's kind of a weird situation to think about -- same teams playing back-to-back in the same place," Packers safety Atari Bigby said. "But, the goal is always to go out there and win, so we're going to play to win no matter what."

Following the Packers' playoff-clinching 48-10 thrashing of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, head coach Mike McCarthy didn't reveal what he plans to do for what could be an otherwise meaningless tune-up for the postseason.

Mike McCarthy
(Getty)

His players don't want McCarthy to play things close to the vest, even if it means showing some things to the Cardinals as a prospective first-round opponent.

"We're full speed ahead," cornerback Charles Woodson said. "We're looking to make our splash in the playoffs. We have an opportunity. There's no reason to let up now."

Wide receiver Donald Driver echoed the sentiments, saying, "You can't sit guys down. It's really up to Mike anyway, but if guys want to play, I think he should let us play. We've got to keep our offense right."

Green Bay, which bounced back from a last-second loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers to win for the sixth time in the last seven games, had an encouraging offensive performance against the overmatched Seahawks.

Its running backs, who have played second fiddle in a pass-oriented attack most of the season, scored all six of the Packers' touchdowns Sunday. Five of those were on the ground, one short of the team record.

Situational back Brandon Jackson had three touchdowns (one more than his career total in two-plus seasons), and starter Ryan Grant posted his second two-touchdown game in the past three outings.

"When you're laying in bed on Saturday night, you're kind of hoping for five passing touchdowns, but it's nice to have some of the burden taken off you," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

Rodgers stands to gain the most among the Packers should McCarthy elect to play the starters deep into Sunday's game. He needs 260 passing yards to break Lynn Dickey's single-season franchise record of 4,458 in 1983.

"Our first goal was to win the (NFC) North this year, and we didn't do it," Rodgers said. "But, we were able to make the playoffs, and anything can happen once you get in. We realize that. (We have) one more game, and it could be back-to-back in Arizona."

TRENDING: Cornerback Charles Woodson, who leads the team with eight interceptions, quipped after Sunday's game "it's not fair" about not having any of the Packers' four picks against Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Safety Atari Bigby led the way with a career-high-tying two. Woodson's superior knack for getting his hands on the football has rubbed off on his defensive teammates. The Packers have 13 interceptions in the last five games.

Charles Woodson
(Getty)

Their season total of 27, which leads the league, is Green Bay's highest since it had the same number in 1984. The Packers, who have three four-interception games this year, will need three picks in the finale against the Cardinals on Sunday to match the 1981 squad for most single-season interceptions (30) by a Green Bay team since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978. The Packers are 10-2 this season when the defense has an interception.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4,199 -- Passing yards by Aaron Rodgers this season. Rodgers, who was 12 of 23 for 237 yards and a touchdown in just three quarters Sunday, is the first quarterback in league history to throw for 4,000 yards each of his first two years as a starter.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--RB Ryan Grant reached the 1,200-yard rushing milestone in the 48-10 rout of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Grant, who had 16 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns, has piled up 1,202 yards this season. He had 1,203 in 2008. Grant is only the third Packer in the team's 91-year history to have back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons -- joining Jim Taylor (1961-62) and Ahman Green (2001-03).

--NT Ryan Pickett was sidelined for the second time in the last three games because of a hamstring injury. Pickett didn't practice last week after aggravating the injury in limited action during the Dec. 20 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rookie B.J. Raji started in Pickett's place Sunday.

--FS Nick Collins was in his customary starting spot Sunday, despite missing most of the practice week because of a calf injury he sustained in the previous game.

--S Derrick Martin suffered a left ankle injury in the fourth quarter Sunday. Martin, a backup who was playing in a situational role, didn't return to the game.

--CB Trevor Ford was deactivated because of a knee injury he suffered in practice Wednesday. The rookie had been contributing on special teams.

--LB Jeremy Thompson isn't expected to play the rest of this season, but he's optimistic after receiving multiple medical opinions that nerve damage he sustained in his neck during practice Dec. 4 won't end his playing career. Thompson remains on the team's 53-man roster.


CardinalsSource Top Stories