Check out our NFL Best Bets in this week’s Fab Five:
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers
When and Where: Sunday, Dec. 2, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisc., 1 p.m. EST.
Two seasons ago, Aaron Rodgers said his Green Bay Packers could “run the table” and delivered on that potential as the Packers won their final six games to win the NFC North and reached the conference championship game.
Rodgers may need to provide an even better second version this time around as the Packers try to climb back into the playoff race Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals.
Cards try to recover after torching by Chargers
Arizona (2-9) is going from facing one of the AFC’s best quarterbacks in Philip Rivers to facing one of the NFC’s best in Rodgers. If last week was any indication, the Cardinals are going to be in for a long afternoon.
Rivers shredded Arizona’s secondary to ribbons, completing his first 25 passes and finished 28 of 29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of work as the Cardinals absorbed a 45-10 drumming in Los Angeles.
What made the result somewhat surprising is the Cardinals bolted to a 10-0 lead in the first 10:38 of the contest. Rookie Josh Rosen directed a 76-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game, and then helped set up a 30-yard field goal by Phil Dawson on the next one.
The Cardinals totaled just 41 yards after those two possessions and finished with a season-low 149 as Rosen finished 12 of 19 for 105 yards and an interception with that score. For the season, the 10th overall pick has thrown for 1,521 yards and 10 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.
While Patrick Peterson has locked down one cornerback position, the other one has become like a revolving door. Arizona signed Dontae Johnson and Quentin Rollins on Tuesday and cut Chris Jones. Jones was the third corner to be cut in the last three weeks, joining Jamar Taylor and Bené Benwikere.
David Amerson, who replaced Benwikere after a disastrous first half in Los Angeles, likely will start as Johnson and Rollins get up to speed with the playbook. Adding to the chaos on that side of the ball was Wednesday’s decision to put middle linebacker Josh Bynes on injured reserve with a thumb injury.
Bynes is second on the team with 75 tackles, but he also calls the defensive plays, a responsibility Gerald Hodges will assume going forward.
“The most important factor is getting everybody lined up, making the right checks and allowing everyone to play fast,” Hodges told the Cardinals’ official website Wednesday. “If I can do that, I know everyone will execute their job.”
Arizona has given up 23 or more points in five of its last six games and been outscored 94-45 during its current three-game losing streak.
Pack could get boost from potential return of Cobb
Green Bay (4-6-1) is likely out of the running for the NFC North as it trails Chicago by 3 1/2 games with five remaining. When Rodgers made his bold claim two years ago, he had a fully healthy offense that featured Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, Jared Cook as his receiving targets and Ty Montgomery at running back.
Fast forward to this game, Adams is the only one close to 100 percent healthy and has been Rodgers top receiving option with 77 catches for 1,022 yards. The Packers parted ways with Nelson before this season, Cook went back to Oakland in 2017, Montgomery was cut during this season and Cobb has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury.
Like the Cardinals at cornerback, the Packers have trotted out multiple wideouts opposite Adams. The best of the bunch — Geronimo Allison — was put on injured reserve with a groin injury, ending his season. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has 25 catches for 413 yards but just two receptions in the last two games while rookie Equanimeous St. Brown is, well, a rookie.
Tight end Jimmy Graham is trying to play through a fractured thumb that severely hampered him in last Sunday night’s 24-17 loss at Minnesota, making Cobb’s potential return this weekend well received. Aaron Jones has emerged as the feature running back and has 256 yards and four TDs in his last three games.
Despite the personnel packages being in a state of flux, Rodgers is ready to go all-in once more and get Green Bay into the postseason for a third straight year.
“Yeah, why not?” Rodgers told NFL.com when asked if he feels the need to let loose over Green Bay’s final five games. “If we lose, you guys (the media) are just going to write us off, so might as well let it all hang out these last five [games].”
Rodgers has thrown for 3,271 yards and 20 touchdowns, but his 61.7 percent completion rate is off his mark of 64.7 from last year and his career accuracy rate of 64.9 percent. Despite having thrown at least one completion to 13 different players this season, Rodgers has only one interception in 413 attempts, coming in Week 4.
This is the first time Rodgers is facing the Cardinals since the divisional round of the 2016 playoffs in which he completed a Hail Mary pass to Jeff Janis as time expired to force overtime. Arizona, though, won 26-20 as Carson Palmer needed just three plays to cover 80 yards and threw a five-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald for the victory.
The Packers are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
- The home team is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between the teams.
- The over is 21-6 in their last 27 games vs. NFC teams.
- The over is 11-4 in their last 15 games as favorites.
- The over is 5-2 in their last seven home games vs. teams with sub-.500 road records.
The Cardinals are:
- 4-10-1 ATS in their last 15 games as road underdogs.
- 9-22-1 ATS in their last 32 games after allowing 350 or more total yards in the previous game.
- 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after totaling less than 150 passing yards in the previous game.
- The over is 16-7 in their last 23 road games.
- The over is 5-2 in their last seven games following a straight up loss of 14 or more points.
- The over is 12-5 in their last 17 games as road underdogs