Scout: Cards Are Overlooked

A longtime scout who was part of three Super Bowl teams breaks down Sunday's Packers-Cardinals playoff game. "Late in the season, they kind of lay down. Then they turn the lights on for the meaningful games and they're just another team."

Last year, the Arizona Cardinals finished 9-7 and were deemed the worst playoff team in NFL history.

This year?

"It's a home game for Arizona and the 10 guys on ESPN all picked the Packers," said David Razzano, who worked as a scout for three Super Bowl franchises. "Nobody believes in them because they were so bad for so many years. They're good and they'll feel like an underdog, so it's going to be tough for the Packers to beat them in my estimation."

Razzano likes the Cardinals to win a playoff game featuring high-octane offenses and "up-and-down" defenses.

"I think they can go far and they can get back to the Super Bowl," he said. "The key is (Dominique Rodgers-)Cromartie's health. I like the Cardinals. I know nobody else does. What happens is, late in the season, they kind of lay down. They're trying to stay healthy and they always throw a couple clunkers in. Then they turn the lights on for the meaningful games and they're just another team."

For the sake of full disclosure, Razzano was part of the personnel department that built these Cardinals, so he has an intimate knowledge of the challenge the Packers face this weekend.

Darnell Dockett
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Defensively, he likes the way the Packers have gelled under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, saying that group has peaked at the right time. One matchup that will work in its favor is rookie outside linebacker Clay Matthews III against left tackle Jeremy Bridges, the injury replacement for reliable veteran Mike Gandy. Pressuring Warner is an absolute must, in Razzano's opinion.

"The left tackle position with Jeremy Bridges is the weak link," Razzano said. "He's a utility guy at the key position. He's the one guy that they really need to help. I liked Matthews coming out. I didn't like him like I liked (Brian) Cushing, but he's had a heck of a year. He's coming off the edge and he's a pretty relentless competitor. He's got all the intangibles, he's got the blood lines. He's a little weak at the point, but away from the ball, just running and chasing and rushing the quarterback, he's good."

He discounts the injuries to Anquan Boldin as having much of an impact if they keep him out on Sunday. Boldin was injured in the wild card game last year, and the Cardinals won two playoff games without him before he returned for the Super Bowl.

"They're used to him being out. Early Doucet and (Steve) Breaston are very capable," he said.

On the other side of the ball, Razzano loves the Packers' talent, starting with Aaron Rodgers and continuing to the receivers and running back Ryan Grant.

"I think the Packers will score," he said. "That Jermichael Finley is really a force. I loved him coming out of Texas as a third-round steal."

The wild card is the health of Rodgers-Cromartie. "He has to be 100 percent," Razzano said of the Cardinals' Pro Bowl cornerback. But the Cardinals have more top talent on that side of the ball, with safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle and linebackers Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes. He said end Darnell Dockett is "as good as there is in the NFL."

Razzano agrees with the premise that turnovers could render all of this null and void. With the Packers at plus-24 and the Cardinals at minus-7, that equates to a two-turnovers-per-game difference.

"You watch these games, that's always the key," Razzano said. "One of those fumbles or an interception, it just changes momentum. You just can't turn it over. The Cardinals definitely have to bring their ‘A game.' They're a little bit inconsistent. That's the history of the Cardinals. But their talent level is phenomenal. If they bring their ‘A game,' they're going to be hard to beat. Green Bay's good now but I think the Cardinals are just superior in talent."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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