GREEN BAY – The Packers and Cardinals are dissimilar football franchises.
One lives in a desert. The other romantically claims its turf to be a tundra.
The Packers have won 13 league titles. The Cardinals have won only two, one of which was controversially taken from Pottstown and awarded to the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ last title was won in 1947, when the team was in Chicago.
Green Bay was able to keep its team. The Cardinals have belonged to three cities.
The Packers are one of professional sports’ most venerable, stable and popular brands, accustomed to winning and the fame that accompanies it. The Cardinals have seemingly spent an eternity operating in anonymity and struggling to survive. In Chicago, they were second fiddle to the Bears. In St. Louis, they played in the shadow of the baseball Cardinals. In Arizona, they played in Arizona State’s stadium.
Second fiddle no more!
These are no longer the wanna-be Cardinals. This is a franchise with one of the league’s great new arenas, built to host Super Bowls. The Cardinals play in a market of explosive growth, and they are a team with one of the league’s most talented, young rosters.
The team the Packers will face on Sunday is as good as there is in the NFL. How good? Good enough to be used as a gauge for measuring the Packers’ postseason readiness.
When you sit down to watch the Packers and Cardinals play on Sunday, know you’re probably watching the first of several pivotal meetings between the two teams over the next few years, and you might be watching the first of two such games in this season.
This isn’t Bill Bidwill’s little team anymore. The Cardinals have finally arrived.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Cardinals.
1. Run the ball – The Rams rushed for 164; the Steelers for 141.
2. Protect the ball – Arizona is No. 2 in the league in takeaways with 29; neither the Rams nor the Steelers turned the ball over.
3. Disguise the scheme – The Cardinals’ balance between run and pass demands the Packers disguise their fronts and coverages.
4. Play fast – The Cardinals could be the fastest team the Packers will have faced this season.
5. Throw at the other guys – The ones who aren’t Patrick Peterson.
6. Win special teams – The Packers appear to own an edge.
7. Catch the ball – The Packers must be at their precision-passing best to move the ball on the Cardinals.
8. Throw the screens – It’s how you attack a defense that attacks.
9. Feel where you are – This is Week 16. This is the time for making your move.
10. Play with pride – You are the helmet you wear. In the big, late-season games, you play for the G on that helmet.
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