Three weeks ago, the Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers by 30 points. No one should expect that kind of blowout when the teams meet again Saturday night, this time in the NFC divisional playoffs.
“I think these guys definitely come back here with a bad taste in their mouth,” Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson said, “so I think it will definitely be a much better game.”
Odds makers are picking the Cardinals, the NFC’s No. 2 seed, by seven points, although Packers coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t call his team the underdog.
“We’re no underdog going to Arizona,” McCarthy said after his team’s 35-18 wild-card victory over Washington. “I don’t care what people think or how we’re picked or things like that. We’re going out there to win, and expect to win.”
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, acknowledged his team’s underdog status, but said “the pressure’s all going to be on” Arizona.
“They’re coming off a tough loss at home against Seattle. Before that, they blew us out,” Rodgers said. “They’re the Super Bowl favourites, and obviously the favourite team on Saturday night, so we’ve just got to go out, be loose, let it all hang out, because the pressure’s all on that side.”
Arizona safety Rashad Johnson said there’s pressure on both sides.
“We’ve all got to play the game,” he said. “I think there’s a little bit of pressure on everyone to go out and want to play well. If you don’t feel any butterflies and have some type of pressure, you’re in the wrong business.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians discounted the whole concept of pressure. “There is no pressure,” he said. “Pressure is something when you’re not prepared for something. We have high expectations.”
The Dec. 27 victory over the Packers capped a nine-game winning streak for Arizona (13-3). A week later, the Cardinals ended their regular season by taking a 36-6 drubbing at the hands of Seattle, a loss they dismiss as an aberration.
The Packers (11-6) still had a chance at the NFC North title, despite the loss in the desert, but they finished the regular season by losing at home to Minnesota, so Green Bay settled for a wild-card berth.
And last Sunday in Washington, Rodgers and the rest of the Packers played better than they had most of the season.Report Typo/Error