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Three statistical observations about the Cardinals’ passing offense leading up to their game Sunday against the Packers in Arizona:
1. The potency of the Cardinals’ passing game compared to the Packers’ is reflected by the two starting quarterbacks’ overall grades this season: While Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has a strong +22.2 overall mark (+12.9 as a passer), it’s a far cry from that of Arizona’s Carson Palmer (+54.9 overall, +53.7 as a passer). And Palmer excels at throwing the deep ball: 16.3 percent of his passes are deep throws, second in the NFL to the Bills’ Tyron Taylor (18.9 percent). His accuracy rate on those throws (49.4 percent) trails only that of the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and the Saints’ Drew Brees.
2. Opposing defenses have been able to bring the heat against Palmer. The Cardinals’ quarterback has been under pressure in the pocket significantly more than average (42 percent of his dropbacks, compared to the NFL average of 36 percent). And while Palmer has a higher-than-average passer rating on most routes (and 106.7 overall), he struggles with the post route (22 of 44, 522 yards, one TD, four interceptions for a passer rating on those routes of 64.8).
3.Larry Fitzgerald (+24.9 overall grade) is a favorite target of Palmer’s when Arizona uses its 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers), with a 37 percent threat rate (the threat rate being the percentage of time an eligible receiver is targeted when there is an aimed pass). In 10 personnel (one running back, no tight end, four wide receivers), Fitzgerald has a threat rate of 24 percent, second on the team only to speedy John Brown (27 percent). At age 32, Fitzgerald ranks third in the NFL with 99 receptions, for 1,131 yards.