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Green Bay Packers (10-5, 10-4-1 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-5, 9-6 ATS), Week 17, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Sunday, Jan. 3rd, 4:15 PM Eastern, Fox
By Z-Man of Predictem.comk
Point Spread: Cardinals -3/Packers +3
Bet NFL Playoff games at reduced odds -105 instead of -110 when you place those bets on Friday’s at BetUSA. (They’re good at getting credit cards to work for deposits)
The Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals are both already in the playoffs, but they’ll play their regular-season finale Sunday out in Glendale for seedings, and with the very real possibility that they meet again next week in an NFC Wild Card game on the same field.
Most online sportsbooks opened Arizona as a three-point favorite over Green Bay, with a total of 43 or 44. And those numbers have held pretty steady in early betting action this week.
The Cardinals are also listed at right around -200 on most NFL betting moneylines, with the Packers getting about +175 as the underdogs.
The Pack clinched a Wild Card berth last week with a 48-10 rout of Seattle, their sixth win in their last seven games. So Green Bay will enter the playoffs as either the five or six seed in the NFC.
Arizona won its second-straight NFC West Division title two weeks ago, then beat the St. Louis Rams last week 31-10. And thanks to Minnesota’s loss at Chicago Monday night, the Cardinals still have a shot at earning the two seed in the NFC, and a first-round bye. First, Arizona would need the New York Giants to upset the Vikings at the Metrodome early in the day Sunday. If that happens, the Cardinals would then need a win over Green Bay and a Dallas victory over Philadelphia to get that two seed.
But if Minnesota beats the Giants early Sunday, Arizona might be tempted to rest some of its starters, including, among others, QB Kurt Warner and WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
And in that eventuality, both teams may play it close to the vest Sunday afternoon, and save some of their good stuff for Wild Card weekend.
On the season the Packers are outgaining opponents on average by a 381-291 YPG margin, and outrushing foes 118-86.
The Cardinals are outgaining opponents this year by a 355-347 YPG margin, but are getting outrushed 113-96.
Green Bay also ranks third in the league in average time-of-possession at 32:45, while Arizona ranks 12th at 30:21.
These two teams last met in a game that mattered three seasons ago, when the Packers beat the Cardinals at Lambeau Field 31-14. They also played in Glendale in September of this year, when Green Bay jumped out to a 38-10 halftime lead and held on for a 44-37 exhibition season victory.
On the injury front, Arizona’s Neil Rackers, one of the better kickers in the league in recent years, has missed the last two games with a bad groin, and is unlikely to play Sunday. In his place, former New York Jet Mike Nugent, who also went just 2-for-6 kicking field goals for Tampa Bay early this season, is 2-for-2 on field goals for the Cards and 8-for-8 on extra points.
These two teams have played six common opponents this season. In going up against the Bears, Rams, Vikings, Lions, 49ers and Seahawks, Green Bay is 7-2 straight up and 6-2-1 vs. the spread, while Arizona is 7-2 SU and 5-4 ATS. The Packers, on average, outgained those six opponents by 94 yards in those nine games, while the Cardinals owned a +76 YPG margin over those same foes.
The totals are 8-7 in Packers games this season, which have averaged almost 48 points, but 5-10 in Cardinals games, which have averaged 44 points, mainly because Arizona opponents are averaging a full touchdown less per game than they did last season.
The Sagarin PURE POINTS ratings at USAToday.com rate the Packers at 26.3, the Cardinals at 21.5. Toss in Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage factor of 2.3, and Green Bay is a 2 1/2-point road favorite over Arizona on the Sagarin line.
Zman’s Pick: I like the Packers to win this game straight up and cover the point spread.