Green Bay Packers (11-6 SU, 10-7 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (13-3 SU, 9-7 ATS)
2016 NFC Divisional Playoffs
Date/Time: Saturday, January 16, 2016, 8:15 pm EST
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB +7.5/ARI -7.5
Over/Under Total: 50
The first of this upcoming weekendís two NFC Divisional round playoff games will be a rematch of a lopsided week 16 regular season game, when the Green Bay Packers go back on the road to University of Phoenix Stadium for a rematch against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday evening on NBC.
Embarrassed after one of the worst defeats in the Mike McCarthy era in that, 38-8, drubbing by the Cardinals, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers talked a little bit about hoping to get a rematch. Following an encouraging, 35-18, victory over the Washington Redskins in the NFC Wild Card game on Sunday, the Packers and Rodgers will get their wish when the go back out to the desert of Glendale for a second date with the NFC West Champion Cardinals.
With the Packers victory over the Redskins only a few hours old, oddsmakers have released the opening point spread for this game with the Cardinals as 7.5-point favorites at home on Saturday. The over/under total opened at 50.
There wasnít a single facet of these two teams earlier meeting that wasnít dominated by the Cardinals, including two defensive touchdowns on strip-sack fumbles adding insult to injury following a 24 point lead beat in part by two Carson Palmer TD throws and a David Johnson scoring scamper. Arizona sacked Rodgers eight times as well, in a game that started the Packers woes and injuries along the offensive line.
The opening quarter of the Washington wild card game looked like it was going to be more of the same for Rodgers and the Packers, and then they went into their no-huddle offense. The Packers picked up the pace, caught the Redskins off guard a few times at the line of scrimmage and rattled off 17-unanswered points that seems to put the mojo back into the Packers offense. With the success of the hurry-up no-huddle against the Redskins you would expect McCarthy and the Packers to continue to use it in the divisional round game plan, but thereís a huge difference in defense between the Cardinals and the Skins. The Cards finished the year 6th versus the run (91.2 ypc) and 5th over in total yards (321 ypg), so its going to take a completely different game plan for the Packers to get revenge on Arizona on Saturday.
Arizonaís offense had success against the Packers in the first game with Johnson in the running game. But considering the Packers are still without CB Sam Shields (concussion) and his backup rookie Quinten Rollins missed most of the second half of the Redskins game, Palmer and coach Bruce Ariens will likely look to take advantage of third-stringer Ladarius Gunter and the weakened Packers secondary coming off a short week to prepare. The one thing that could improve the Packers chances compared to last time they faced the Cards will be an improved pass rush. The Packers sacked Kirk Cousins six times last weekend, if they can get to Palmer and knock him around a little it could give the secondary a chance to survive and make plays.
Historically, these two also met in one of the highest scoring playoff games in NFL history when the Cardinals behind Kurt Warner beat the Packers in a explosive display of offense, 51-45, back in 2010. But as far as wagering goes, something is going to have to give in this game this weekend. Green Bay is 5-1 ATS in their last six road playoff games, but Arizona is also 4-0 ATS in their last four playoff games played at home.
The home team is also 5-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head games between the Packers and Cardinals too. Perhaps the best betting trend for the divisional playoff game Saturday could be the under of 50. The under is a surprising 4-1 the last five times these two have met in Arizona, with the only exception being the aforementioned overtime playoff game with all the fireworks in 2010.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: If the point spread drops under 7 points Iíd be inclined to side with the rested and much better Cardinals team in this playoff game. But either way, I think the best value in this game will be on the under. The Cardinals will get to Rodgers again, so I donít see the Packers offense scoring much. Plus, I think the Packers defense will be able to battle in this game better after learning a little about the Cards offense in the first matchup. Iím taking the under of 50.
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