NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals Predictions
by George Monroy - 1/12/2016
The NFL playoffs move into the divisional round this weekend with a Saturday matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the afternoon and a stylistically intriguing game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals to end the day. The Cardinals ran through the NFC mostly unnoticed with a 13-3 regular-season record, and Bruce Arian's powerhouse squad could very well be the best team in the entire league.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, on the other hand, limped their way into the postseason, losing six of their last 10 games, which turned the "Cheese Heads" into a popular upset pick during the wild-card round. NFL fans and experts, however, were given a swift reminder that the Washington Redskins are still the Washington Redskins and Green Bay, no matter how bad they might look, is still a team with a championship foundation. The postseason is set to continue this weekend with a Saturday, 5:15 PM PT start in Arizona. Let's take a closer look at the game, make a few predictions and figure out the best way to wager on Green Bay versus Arizona.
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Packers at Cardinals Betting Story Lines
The big storyline heading into the divisional matchup between the Packers and Cardinals is how Green Bay's struggling offense, riddled with injury, will perform against one of the best defenses in the NFL. These two teams played each other during Week 16, and the matchup ended with the Packers being mauled 38-8 in a game that saw Rodgers sacked eight times and gave up two fumbles which Arizona returned for touchdowns. Overall, the meeting could not have gone any worse for Green Bay, which might end up being a good thing heading into Saturday's matchup, because coach Mike McCarthy and crew have numerous ways to improve.
Injury wise, Green Bay has struggled all year with key players missing extended time throughout the regular season, and this weekend's divisional round will bring more of the same. Wide receiver Davante Adams twisted his knee during a third-quarter play against Washington and did not return to the field. Reports indicated that Adam's knee is just sore, and the receiver is expected to play, but whether he'll be 100 percent is another matter entirely. Green Bay's biggest injury concerns, however, center around left tackle David Bakhtiari and corner Sam Shields, who both have been out since Week 15 and 16, respectively. Both players have huge roles in the offensive line and secondary for the Packers, and as of this writing neither is expected to play. Arizona, on the other hand, has no major injury concerns to report.
Packers at Cardinals Betting Odds and Trends
Arizona is currently a seven-point favorite at all five Doc's Sports affiliated sportsbooks. Green Bay holds a 10-7 ATS record, but it went 5-5 ATS over its last 10 matchups, while Arizona sits on a 9-7 ATS mark with a similar 5-5 ATS over the last 10. Totals wise, the line is currently fluctuating between 49.5 and 50 points. Week 16's game up saw 46 points scored between the teams, and overall Arizona is only 4-4 against its totals at home, while Green Bay is 4-4 on the road.
The Packers will enter the game having covered four of their last five road games and five of their last six playoff road games. Arizona, on the other hand, has failed to cover four of its last five playoff games and currently holds a 1-5 ATS record in its last six home games. The Cardinals, however, do air out the ball during the postseason and are 5-0 against the "over" during the last five playoff games. Offense wise, Arizona is ranked No.1 and 2 in total yards and passing yards gained, respectively, while Green Bay is ranked 23 and 25 in the same categories.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Packers at Cardinals Predictions
The Packers are coming off a road playoff win, which is always an impressive feat, but let's not get carried away. The team beat a young and inexperienced Washington squad that was in over its head from the very beginning. Arizona will be an entirely different animal. Carson Palmer is an MVP candidate, the running game is elite, and coach Arians may be one of the most aggressive play-callers in the NFL. On paper, receiving a touchdowns worth of points is awfully enticing, and in some sense there is value on that line. However, the Packers have too many issues on offense to keep up with a loaded Arizona squad, and one impressive win over Washington does not change that.
Last weekend's wild-card matchup highlighted Green Bay's struggle to protect Rodgers with an undermanned offensive line. Most of the team's biggest passing yardage came as a result of broken plays and Rodgers improvising in the backfield. Expect Arizona's secondary to be much more disciplined. All signs point to another Cardinals win and cover. Most football fans might not have noticed it yet, but Arizona is a monster. Expect something similar to the Week 16 matchup between the teams.
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