Three Arizona Cardinals to watch Saturday
By Erich Becker
Three Arizona Cardinals who are key to the team’s success on Saturday
Depending on who you listen to, this weeks’ game will be a different Green Bay team coming to town than the one who was here three weeks ago. This team will be looking for blood, or revenge, or hope to capitalize on all the pressure put on the Arizona Cardinals if you listen to Aaron Rodgers’ psychological warfare.
Give or take a player or two, there are three key players that could ensure a Cardinals win in Saturday’s Divisional Round Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium.
While Patrick Peterson (and to a slightly lesser degree, Tyrann Mathieu) is the heart and sole of the secondary, the front seven is anchored by Calais Campbell and how he plays. Number 93 has had some good games this season, and some bad games, but if he can find his way and set up camp in the Green Bay backfield, this will be another tough day for Aaron Rodgers. There’s a lot to be said for having a dynamic line on defense, it can stop the run, it can blow through blocks and take out the quarterback, or it can cause so much pressure the QB makes a poor decision once you get inside of his head.
Campbell will have to perform at the Pro Bowl quality level to make a statement for himself, and the rest of the Cardinals. We are in this to win it, and you won’t run on us, you won’t pass on us, and you’ll be looking at the natural grass of our field if you think otherwise.
In the first match-up against the Packers, Bethel drew James Jones throughout the game, with PP21 staying focuses on Randall Cobb, and it remains to be seen what the match-up will be on Saturday. With Davante Adams likely out for this game, the already thin Green Bay receiving corps will be tested and ever diminished. Still, with Bethel on defense, even with a pick-six this season against San Francisco and a great adjustment interception against Green Bay in Week 16, there’s no doubt that he’s the weak link in the secondary. Look or Rodgers to go after him again this time. It is up to Bethel to bait the Green Bay team into thinking he’s ripe for the picking, and torch them and make them pay.
This one is a no-braining, but not in the way you think. Carson Palmer is important to this win as all he needs to be is 2015 Carson Palmer. The monkey on his back of never have won a playoff game (although a ridiculously small sample size) will be a topic of conversation, but much like he maintained poised as the Cardinals played the Bengals earlier this season, the same could be said for this game. While Palmer wasn’t with the team last season when they were one-and-done behind Ryan Lindley, but, in in heart, he has to want this, to show that he can win a playoff game and take a team deep into the post season.
Saturday’s game shouldn’t be treated as a cakewalk, its my hope that the Week 17 beat-down by the Seattle Seahawks showed this team what they needed to see, resolved to restore their confidence in Cardinals football, and the Green Bay Packers will have to deal with a very focused, well rested, hungry home team.