Cardinals-Packers arguably biggest Thursday Night game in NFL history
TEMPE — Thursday Night Football games are rarely anything to write home about, given their nature of having just plain bad matchups.
But not this week.
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals and 6-1 Green Bay Packers meet head-on in a potential preview of the NFC Championship game. It’s iron against iron in what is just the third primetime game in NFL history to feature to two teams on at least six-game win streaks.
The stakes are high indeed. A win gives Arizona a two-game advantage over the Packers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC — and the coveted first-round bye that comes with it — along with a head-to-head tiebreaker if needed.
The Cardinals can also keep pressure on the Los Angeles Rams, who trail Arizona by just a game in the NFC West.
The implications of this game are much steeper than Thursdays past.
“I don’t really make it too much,” quarterback Kyler Murray said Tuesday. “For me, it’s primetime Thursday night, you’re the only game on TV. Another game for me. I’ve got to go out and do what I got to do. I’ve got to execute. If I don’t, you know the end result. I’m looking forward to going out there and playing well.”
Good Thursday Night Football matchups can be few and far between. This year’s lineup has largely underwhelmed, with last week’s game featuring a depleted Cleveland Browns team and a Denver Broncos squad all out of whack. The week prior, a Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers team cruised for most of the night over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Only three times this season (Cincinnati Bengals, Rams and Buccaneers) has a legit playoff contender been featured on Thursday night, all of which faced a team most likely on the outside looking when the playoffs roll around.
This isn’t the first time Arizona has entered a primetime Thursday matchup with both teams eyeing lofty expectations, however.
In 2008, the Cardinals-Eagles game on Thanksgiving turned out to be a sign of things to come, as the two sides eventually clashed in the NFC Championship game. Arizona would finish on the wrong side of a lopsided win that Thursday, but got the last laugh as they cashed their ticket to the Super Bowl with a 32-25 win over Philadelphia in the conference championship.
That playoff matchup was a very unlikely scenario. The same can’t be said for the matchup on Thursday.
There’s no better time to show you are a legit contender in the NFL than on primetime.
“It’s definitely special, definitely fun going against a great opponent, an NFC opponent as well,” safety Budda Baker said Tuesday. “Great quarterback, Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s definitely gonna be fun. Hopefully the Red Sea comes out. I know the Packers, they always pack well, so we’ll definitely be seeing some green in the stands.
“Hopefully seeing the Red Sea out there loud and about and just gonna have a great time. No matter what just cherish each moment your on the field because any moment can be your last.”