The Green Bay Packers didn’t enjoy their last trip to the desert.
Yes, their Week 16 visit to University of Phoenix Stadium represented an opportunity to escape frigid winter conditions and spend a few days in a much more palatable climate. Unfortunately for them, they also had to play a football game.
The Arizona Cardinals dominated that game, sacking Green Bay quarterbacks nine times and scoring two defensive touchdowns on their way to a 38-8 win.
That was then. Saturday night’s game is a different animal — it’s the playoffs. The Packers, confident after winning their Wild Card Round game against Washington Sunday, are not only trying to avenge their regular-season loss to the Cardinals, but are trying to advance to the NFC Championship Game for the second straight season and fourth time since 2008.
All week, we’ll take you behind enemy lines to let you know everything the Packers are doing to prepare for their rematch with the Cardinals in Glendale.
The last time the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals met in the postseason was the 2009 wild-card game at University of Phoenix Stadium, site of this year’s NFC divisional playoff game between the two teams.
Even though Bakhtiari did not practice Friday, the Green Bay Packers listed him as probable for the NFC divisional playoff game against the Cardinals. He was a limited participant in the first two practices of the week.
Eddie Lacy doesn’t recall the hit that injured his ribs in Week 15 against the Oakland Raiders.
But the Green Bay Packers running back can remember every painful hit since then.
“I think any time you get slapped in the face on national television,” guard T.J. Lang told USA TODAY, “you take that personal. Yeah, that’s a team that embarrassed us. It turned a lot of people against us, caused a lot of people to lose faith and hope in us. It’s nothing we can do about that now. That game’s behind us. There’s a lot of learning lessons we can take from that game and hopefully apply this week.”
• Packers promote DB Robertson Daniel to fill Quarless’ roster spot (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Rather than promote a wide receiver from their practice squad to the 53-man roster, the Green Bay Packers chose CB/S Robertson Daniel to fill the spot that opened when tight end Andrew Quarless was put on injured reserve.
• Packers’ confidence in themselves stems from deep-seated belief system (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Self-efficacy, verbal persuasion, imaginal experiences — none are the topics of a typical post-game news conference. But these mental tools, which extend far beyond the world of sports, go a long way toward explaining why the Packers, to a man, think they have a shot at beating Arizona in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night.
• 5 changes that give Green Bay hope against Arizona (FoxSports.com)
Three weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers went to Arizona and were pounded 38-8 — their first 30-point loss since Thanksgiving Day 2013.
Coach Mike McCarthy must have seen enough from left tackle David Bakhtiari in practice Wednesday and Thursday to feel good about his chances for Saturday’s game at Arizona.
• Insider trading: Talking Packers vs. Cardinals (Packers.com)
Green Bay and Arizona have not met in the playoffs in six years, but they just met on the same field three weeks ago. Before the rematch, writers Darren Urban of azcardinals.com and Mike Spofford of packers.com quizzed one another about how the matchup is taking shape.
Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers, two California kids with far different playoff experiences, will square off when the Arizona Cardinals host the Green Bay Packers in Saturday’s NFC divisional round game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Packers haven’t said whether Bakhtiari, who returned to practice this week, will make his 50th career start at left tackle or Tretter will make his second in Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Cardinals.
David Bakhtiari hasn’t forgotten how it felt watching the Green Bay Packers kick off their Dec. 27 game at Arizona without him — the big, tough third-year left tackle had a few tears in his eyes — and he hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to watch his comrades struggle without him, either.
Shields, who hasn’t played since his head hit the turf in the Dec. 13 game against the Cowboys, still has one more hurdle to clear, according to coach Mike McCarthy.
• Quarless Tweets season is over; Packers to put him on IR, sources say (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Tight end Andrew Quarless’ road back from an early season knee injury has ended.
According to two sources, the Green Bay Packers informed him that they plan to put him on injured reserve. Quarless Tweeted a message he had put on Instagram Thursday evening saying, “My season has come to an end not by choice.”
• Packers’ defense likes pulling stunts (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
At an undetermined point in time between Sunday evening and Tuesday afternoon, Carson Palmer flipped on the tape of a playoff game between Green Bay and Washington. He watched as the Packers thrashed quarterback Kirk Cousins with 11 hits that included six sacks. He kept a mental tally of the defenders capable of rushing the passer.
• Packers buy into coach’s confidence heading into Arizona game (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The Green Bay Packers will fly to Arizona on Friday with a confident coach and a confident team.
On Thursday morning, coach Mike McCarthy said, “I feel very good coming off the performance we had Sunday and being able to turn right around and just keep going…. We have a lot of energy and confidence right now.”
• Rematch in Arizona: Pressure on Palmer and Rodgers Will Decide Winner (Packers Insider)
Aaron Rodgers was pounded all day long, pressured on 15 of his 28 pass attempts, hit on 12 of them, plus oh-by-the-way sacked 8 times, including two of them being fumbles-returned for Cardinal touchdowns. “They were very aggressive to the line of scrimmage,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “They played very well and took advantage of it.”
• 3 Storylines: Packers at Cardinals (Green Bay Press Gazette)
Each Tuesday, Press-Gazette Media will look to the week ahead and the Green Bay Packers’ next opponent. This week, it’s the Arizona Cardinals. Here are three storylines to watch when the Packers travel to Arizona for their NFC divisional playoff game at 7:15 p.m. CT on Saturday.
A blowout isn’t expected, especially after the Packers’ wild-card win against the Washington Redskins. But the Cardinals haven’t played since their Week 17 blowout loss to Seattle. How will both games affect each team?
• Packers study tape of first Arizona game: “It’s not fun to watch” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The excitement of beating Washington on Sunday was tempered slightly when the Green Bay Packers realized a key component of their upcoming preparation. Paired again with the Arizona Cardinals, a team that blasted them by 30 points on Dec. 27, the Packers had to swallow their pride and revisit tape from a game they would rather forget.
• Ha Ha Clinton-Dix tuning out recent praise given to safety position (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Most people don’t want to hear the bad stuff, but Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t want to hear the good stuff.
Not this week. Especially not this week considering what’s on the line.
So when asked if he had heard the praise Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer had showered on him this week in a conference call with local reporters, Clinton-Dix put up a stop sign.
“I don’t even want to talk about it,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t need anybody gassing me up. I don’t want none of that. Thank you.”
• Rodgers, others embrace underdog role Saturday night (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
All that negativity about the Green Bay Packers being seven-point underdogs at Arizona on Saturday night, being pegged at 18-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl — the worst odds of the entire playoff field — and having to play a team that crushed them, 38-8, two weeks ago?
• Packers hoping starting O-line will be intact again (Packers.com)
The starting five on the Packers’ offensive line has not been together for a game in nearly two months, but the group might finally reunite on Saturday night.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari returned to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday from his ankle injury. He gave no promises regarding his potential availability for the NFC divisional playoff game in Arizona, but the signs are the most positive they’ve been since the initial injury back in Week 15 in Oakland.
• Protecting Rodgers the key for Packers in Cardinals rematch (Fox Sports Wisconsin)
For Green Bay to have any chance at beating Arizona on Saturday night in a NFC divisional round playoff game, the offensive line will have to do a much better job of protecting the quarterback.
“Well, the pressure’s all going to be on them,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. “They’re coming off a tough loss at home against Seattle. Before that they blew us out. They’re the Super Bowl favorites, and obviously the favorite team on Saturday night, so we’ve just got to go out, be loose, let it all hang out, because the pressure’s all on that side.”
Shields “took a significant step toward returning from the concussion he sustained Dec. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys.”
“I was counting on film, I think [they have] seven guys who can rush the passer,” Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Really, really physical group. There’s not a small quick, fast guy there. They’re all big. They all run well. They’re all really strong at the point of attack. They can set the edge.”
With wide receiver Davante Adams unlikely to play after suffering a knee injury in the Packers’ NFC wild-card win Sunday at Washington, Abbrederis is the next man up behind veterans Randall Cobb and James Jones if Adams can’t go.
Indications are that Adams sustained a sprained MCL in his right knee when tight end Richard Rodgers landed on top of him in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. Although Adams said the initial examination showed he avoided a major injury, the follow-up tests showed partial damage to his MCL. It’s an injury that does not require surgery but takes a few weeks to a few months to heal.
• History not on Packers’ side in rematch (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
That’s certainly what the Packers dealt with internally after their 38-8 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 27. In an up-and-mostly-down second half of the season, it was the nadir, a thrashing that exposed all that ailed the Packers.
Just 20 days later, Green Bay gets a rematch in the desert, this time in the divisional round of the playoffs Saturday. Aaron Rodgers predicted this game would be more competitive than that butt-kicking administered by the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
• Young depth stepping up for Packers (Packers.com)
Second-year receiver Jared Abbrederis and undrafted rookie cornerback LaDarius Gunter provided that young depth in last week’s wild-card win, and they could be needed for even bigger roles on Saturday in Arizona.
• Gunter could be vital vs. Cardinals (PackersNews.com)
LaDarius Gunter admitted he was “very” nervous. Hard not to be. For four months, the Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback was stashed on the sideline.
• Cobb: ‘Win or go home’ for Packers (PackersNews.com)
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Brett Christopherson caught up with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who shared his thoughts on Sunday’s 35-18 NFC wild-card victory over the Washington Redskins.
Mike McCarthy had his speech ready to go. He was prepared to tell his team to embrace its role as playoff underdogs.
To hear McCarthy tell it, he even delivered a few lines of it last week when the Green Bay Packers began preparation for their playoff opener at Washington.
And then he stopped.
“I dumped it,” McCarthy said. “I mean, that’s not us.”
After watching him catch four passes for 54 yards in the team’s loss to Minnesota in the regular-season finale, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers predicted that Adams might be poised to be a difference-maker in the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy found a way to make use of his quarterback’s so-called day off. Rodgers has been spending more time with the offensive coaches in the game-planning meetings, McCarthy said Monday.
• Can Packers keep offense rolling in Arizona? (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
The offense seemed to gain its footing against Washington, which was missing three of its top six cornerbacks, and now gets the chance to show its 346-yard performance was no fluke. In beating Washington, 35-18, the Packers scored their most points since a 38-28 victory over Kansas City in Week 3.
• Despite new long snapper, Packers’ Masthay hasn’t had to adjust laces much (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Until late this season, the Packers have had the luxury of having the same kicker (Mason Crosby), holder (Tim Masthay) and long snapper (Brett Goode) since 2010. Goode was so consistent with his snaps that it was rare the Masthay would ever have to spin the ball to keep the laces out of Crosby’s vision.
• Bakhtiari: Tempo key for Packers’ offense (Green Bay Press-Gazette)
Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari co-hosted Monday’s Clubhouse Live, Gannett Wisconsin Media’s live weekly football show. Packers guard Matt Rotheram was Bakhtiari’s guest.
• Packers ‘looking forward to having a redo’ with Cardinals (Fox Sports Wisconsin)
The Arizona Cardinals will meet a familiar foe in the NFC divisional playoffs on Saturday night.
But they won’t expect a one-sided affair over the Green Bay Packers like the previous time they met.