I’ll admit: I did NOT have the Green Bay Packers winning their Week 8 matchup, against the Arizona Cardinals. I’m always happy to be wrong about games like these. A 24-21 Packers victory is FAR more important getting a prediction correct.
I had the Packers losing this game, even before COVID-19 took: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry, out of the game. Those instances just amplified my feelings. Add that to the long list of injuries Green Bay already had, and it solidified it. Although, I always hope for the best.
I said on Quick TO:SS, the Packers MUST run the football to have any chance at winning this game. The Cardinals have not stopped the run very well this season. If Green Bay deployed a clock-control offense and finished drives off with points, they had a shot. They did just that.
A few days after their run game was stonewalled by Washington’s defense, the Packers knuckled up and ran over Arizona’s defense, for 151 and a touchdown. The effective running game and adjusted passing game, allowed Green Bay to chew up the clock. The Packers dominated time of possession, 38-22. Exactly what they needed.
In a game where Adams was unavailable, Aaron Rodgers had to deal with a young receiving crew and one, really, familiar friend in Randall Cobb. To whom he threw his 2 touchdowns to.
Joe Barry not being in the sidelines to call the defensive plays, was a worry coming into the game. Defensive backs and passing game coordinator, Jerry Grey, called on his experience as a former defensive coordinator with the Bills and Vikings, to step in and make those calls, Thursday night. It was very much the “smooth transition” he and the Packers were looking for.
The pressure, the sacks, the containment of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, the aggressiveness, and the opportunistic nature, were all present against the Cardinals. Despite not being able to stop them when they went uptempo, this was truly the finest performance I’ve seen from the Packers defense this season.
The challenges faced, even before the game started, will heighten an already huge game in our minds. Green Bay met the moment and are now atop the NFC, as we approach the mid-season mark. This could prove to be a springboard to maintain the grit, physicality, and excellence that were on full display.
When this team is fully healthy, with players that are able to return, this team could become even more special. Until then, the Packers will enjoy a mini-bye, before getting back to work to prepare for the dangerous Kansas City Chiefs.