It's a cat and mouse game for the birds this week. The Packers close out the regular season Sunday in Phoenix against the Arizona Cardinals and the odds are pretty good they'll fly home, turn right around and go back to University of Phoenix Stadium next week to open the NFL playoffs. Head Coach Mike McCarthy made it pretty clear Monday he's not going to be very forthcoming about his plans for the back to back possibility. McCarthy said he'll plan for this week's game like anyother and make personel decisions based on health and matchups by Friday. He's not interested in saving players or game plan schemes for the potential rematch. The playoff positions of both teams could be determined before kickoff as Phiadelphia and Dallas, along with the Giants and Minnesota, kickoff three hours before Green Bay and Arizona. After last night's Bears overtime victory over the Vikings, the Cardinals could still climb as high as the number two seed this weekend. The Saints locked up home field advantage in the NFC by virtue of Minnesota's third loss in 4 weeks. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles to claim the NFC East and the Vikings fall again, Arizona would move to number two with a victory over the Packers, dropping Dallas to three and Minnesota to 4. Green Bay would also drop to the number 6 seed behind Philadelphia. It will be a very interesting final Sunday to see how it shakes out.
The Packers will likely be without Derrick Martin on Sunday. The backup safety and special teams standout sprained an ankle against the Seahawks and McCarthy has already declared him doubtful. Martin leads the Packers with 20 special teams tackles.
With one week to play, the Packers rank 4th in the NFL on offense at 381.3 yards per game. The are 14th in rushing and 8th in passing. Defensively, the Packers are second overall (290.9) but have assumed the number one position in run defense, allowing 85.7 rushing yards per contest. That's a hefty climb from last year's ranking of 26. The Packers are 11th in passing defense. The team's +22 standing on the turnover table continues to pace the NFL, well ahead of Philadelphia's +15 and New Orleans at +14. They have a league high 27 interceptions and better yet, an NFL low 15 giveaways. Among the individual leaders, Aaron Rodgers is 4th in passer rating at 102.4 behind Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers and Brett Favre. Rodger in the top 6 in every statistical category except completion percentage (10). He's still the top rated third down passer in the game with a glittering 135.1 rating, well ahead of Eli Manning at 115.1. Ryan Grant has 1202 rushing yards, third best in the NFC and 8th overall. He's 7th in total yards from scrimmage with 1399. Mason Crosby ranks 4th in kick scoring with 122 points and with 12 last week, established a new NFL record for the most points scored in his first three seasons (390).
The Pro Bowl teams will be announced tonight. My Packer picks, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, defensive back Charles Woodson, safety Nick Collins. Two players who could also sneak in, running back Ryan Grant and rookie linebacker Clay Matthews.