Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers: Preview, prediction

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Dec 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) makes a reception and is tackled by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The defense will win or lose this game for the Cardinals. As you may have heard by now, the Arizona Cardinals’ slot corner Tyrann Mathieu is out for the season after tearing his ACL late in the game against the Eagles. To Mathieu’s credit he made the interception before falling to the ground. With Mathieu’s absence this will force the Cardinals to make readjustments. Many expect Patrick Peterson to cover Randall Cobb, this is won’t be the case. Cobb is a slot receiver and Peterson doesn’t cover the slot receiver. Peterson will most likely cover James Jones and Jerraud Powers will most likely cover Cobb. This could be a positive for the Arizona Cardinals as Packers QB Aaron Rodgers stated that he has been targeting James Jones.

Good news on the injury front is that safety Rashad Johnson, who ranks 6th in the league with 5 interceptions,  is expected to return this week. Rashad Johnson missed the game against the Eagles while nursing an ankle injury. The cardinals have given up many yards through the air this past month and will have just as much trouble this week against reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers. If the defense can force turnovers and/or three and outs, the Cardinals offense should be able to put points on the board consistently or at the least keep Aaron Rodgers off the field.

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The Cardinals control their own destiny for the postseason. If the Cardinals win this game, they will be guaranteed at least a number two seed heading into the playoffs. This alone should be enough motivation for the Cardinals to put the pedal to the metal. The injury of Mathieu also gives the Cardinals a source of emotional fire to keep on battling. While the loss of Mathieu hurts, the Cardinals are getting at just the right time, the offense is clicking the defense is improving. However, Aaron Rodgers has won two MVPs for a reason and won’t go down easy. However, given how much is at stake for the Cardinals this season, Bruce Arians keeping the team grounded and the fact that this is a home game the Cardinals should be able to pull out a victory. Cardinals 30 Packers 24