Cardinals-Packers key matchup: Patrick Peterson vs. Randall Cobb
The Cardinals host the Packers in an NFC divisional round playoff game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:15 p.m. in Glendale.
Be sure to look for key matchup stories and more Packers news at cardinals.azcentral.com leading up to Saturday's game.
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson vs. Packers WR Randall Cobb
When the teams met three weeks ago, Peterson pretty much stayed on his side of the field and only moved when the receiver in front of him went into motion or lined up inside at the slot-receiver position. That could change in this game if the Cardinals believe Cobb is Green Bay’s most dangerous receiver and feel the need to take him out of the equation. Aaron Rodgers can spread the ball around but he throws the most to Cobb, who was targeted a team-high 129 times during the regular season. Cobb often lines up anywhere, including out of the backfield, so it will be interesting to see if they use him as a decoy or a primary weapon. Peterson might shadow a different receiver such as James Jones or Davante Adams (if he plays) or just patrol one side of the field. Whoever or whatever he covers, however, will likely be held ineffective.
The Packers went with a no-huddle offense on about 30 percent of their snaps during Sunday’s 35-18 NFC wild-card victory over Washington, something they seemed to ditch while suffering through a 4-6 record over the final 10 regular-season games. If Green Bay decides to run an up-tempo attack against the Cardinals, one thing to watch is how quickly Arizona’s defense reacts and handles its substitutions. Twice on Sunday, Rodgers caught the Redskins with 12 men on the field and quickly ran plays to draw a flag. The Cardinals do a lot of rotating on defense, so they’ll have to be seamless with their transitions. “We got the tempo up and they couldn’t keep up,” Rodgers said of the Redskins. “We became a snowball, kind of going downhill, and it was tough for them to stop.”
J.C. Tretter became the third different Green Bay player to line up and start at left tackle in the past three games with stalwart David Bakhtiari still sidelined because of an ankle injury. If Bakhtiari can’t play Saturday, Tretter, normally the backup center, will once again have the assignment of protecting Rodgers’ blindside. The Cardinals registered nine sacks against Green Bay when they met last month. Tretter allowed a sack that went for a safety on Green Bay’s second series during Sunday’s game against Washington, but he was solid after that. It was the only sack the Packers allowed in the game. “I think he jumped in there, man, and did an outstanding job,” receiver James Jones said. “I had a chance to watch him a couple times and he didn’t let the guy get nothing really.”
Packers player spotlight
RB Eddie Lacy – He’s scored 12 touchdowns (10 rushing, two receiving) in 17 career December/January games, including the playoffs. He ran for 63 yards and a touchdown against Washington and is a main factor in the Packers being able to open up their passing game. Lacy is dealing with a rib injury, but he’s playing through it. He’s rushed for 3,075 yards and 23 touchdowns in his first three NFL seasons.
Neither team will put out an official injury list until after practice on Wednesday, but the Packers are hoping Bakhtiari is able to play. The news doesn’t so as good regarding cornerback Sam Shields, who is still in the concussion protocol, according to McCarthy. Wide receiver Davante Adams (knee) might also be doubtful. For the Cardinals, outside linebacker Markus Golden (knee) and defensive tackle Josh Mauro (calf) both practiced on Tuesday and, according to coach Bruce Arians, were “flying around."