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Week 8 Thursday Night Football Preview: Packers vs. Cardinals
These two teams are a combined 13-1 on the year, with both sides riding extended winning streaks into this game. And with injuries and COVID-19 concerns impacting both teams, there will be many opportunities for new heroes to emerge on each side.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers picked up a two-touchdown victory over the Washington Football Team last week. That win extended the Packers’ win streak to six games, with Green Bay moving to 6-1 after dropping their season opener in Jacksonville against the New Orleans Saints. This week, the Packers will have to overcome some prominent COVID-19 issues if they want to extend their win streak to seven games.
Two members of the Packers’ receiving corps are likely to miss this game after being put on the team’s COVID-19 list. Davante Adams was put on the list on Monday, while Alan Lazard was added later. Adams is far and away Aaron Rodgers’ number one target in the passing game, and being without him and a solid secondary option in Lazard could drastically impact the Packers’ passing production.
There is only one undefeated team left in the NFL this season, and that team is the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is 7-0 on the year, and scored a straightforward 31-5 victory over the Houston Texans last week to remain unbeaten. This week, the Cardinals face a tough test against the Packers and their passing game, and Arizona will be without one of their top pass rushers.
JJ Watt is set to miss Thursday night’s game against the Packers due to injury, which will impact how effectively the Cardinals can pressure Rodgers. Chandler Jones is back for the Cardinals, which is undeniably a positive. But without the duo of Watt and Jones to chase Rodgers together, the Packers’ quarterback could find an easier time escaping pressure and completing the kinds of improvisational throws he is known for.
Keys to the Game
For the Green Bay Packers, the top key to this game will be their defense. While the attention this week has been paid to the health of the Packers’ wide receivers, it is worth remembering that Aaron Rodgers is capable of making most receivers look good on any given night. Meanwhile, Kyler Murray is capable of making even the best defenses look bad, and the Packers will need to be on their game defensively to prevent that.
On the Cardinals side, the biggest key to this game will be not getting swallowed up by the moment. As a touchdown favorite at home in one of the marquee games of the season, it is always possible for a team to collapse under the weight of expectations. If the Cardinals can ignore the circumstances surrounding this primetime matchup and simply continue to execute, they could be looking at an 8-0 start.
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