There are still a few injury concerns heading into the final game of the regular season in Arizona. Backup safety Derrick Martin, the leading special teams tackler, has already been ruled out because of a bad ankle sprain. Nose tackle Ryan Pickett remains questionable at best with his bad hamsting. Johnny Jolly and Michael Montgomery were limited at practice Wednesday. Among the linebackers, Nick Barnett was sent home ill, Brandon Chillar didn't work with a sore back and Jeremy Thompson's season is officially over. After suffering a neck stinger a couple of weeks ago at practice, Thompson was officially placed on injured reserve Wednesday. With the open roster spot and depth concerns on the defensive line, the Packers activated Anthony Toribio off the practice squad.
Trying to figure out the playoff matchups in the NFC is almost an exercise in futility. The Packers will be either the five or six seed, but the Cardinals can climb up to the number 2 seed with a first round bye if things fall right. Unfortunately, they'll still be falling while the Green Bay-Arizona game is being played. The Eagles and Cowboys kick off in Dallas at the same time. The Vikings-Giants game goes off at noon. I've heard there are 8 possible senarios of results and 6 of them have the Packers meeting the Cardinals again next week in the Wild Card round. If the Vikings win and Eagles lose, Minnesota locks up the 2 seed and gets the first round bye. If Minnesota falls, a variety of possible matchups are created, let's just wait and see how it sorts itself out.
As for Sunday's matchup, this will be a game won or lost in the air. Both teams fancy the pass and hope the run game keeps the play calling balanced and the defense honest. Can the Packers passing game keep pace with the Cardinals three headed monster at wide receiver? I think so. The Packers will devote most of the attention to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, leaving third receiver Steve Breaston in the hands of Jarrett Bush and or Josh Bell. The Packer pass catchers should be able to make plays inside Arizona's secondary. Count the number of big gainers, that could swing the difference. The other big factor is protection and throwing to the right guys. Green Bay's sack numbers have declined markedly over the past few weeks and their propensity for taking the ball away spiked again last week against Seattle with 4 interceptions. The Packers have 27 picks on the year, leading the league while Green Bay has only turned the ball over 15 times, again, best in the NFL. The Cardinals are -5 on the turnover table and if that trend holds, advantage Packers. Ryan Grant must outproduce Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells combined on the ground. Special teams have to force Arizona to go the length of the field for points. Both teams will play this one straight, I'd be surprised if starters were removed and if it is these same two meeting next week, it will fall on the coaching staffs to tweak the game plans to get the required result when the lose and you go home pressure arrives. Should be fun. Happy New Year.