Adversity: Packers face 7-0 Cardinals without top guns

Packers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(WFRV) –

A premier showdown of NFC powers this evening may have lost a bit of luster with the absence of Packers star receiver Davante Adams and starter Allen Lazard due to COVID-19.

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense will be without his favorite target and top receiving weapons against the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals, 7-0, who are now tabbed nearly a touchdown favorite playing in their home stadium.

The pressure is squarely on the Cardinals to dispose of the depleted Packers in convincing fashion to prove they belong among the NFL’s elite this season.

But Aaron Rodgers and the offense have proven they can overcome the loss of Adams before.  The Packers announced at 3 p.m. today several reinforcements to their 52-roster, activating tight end Dominique Dafney from injured reserve and wide receiver Malik Taylor from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The team also elevated wide receiver Juwann Winfree from the practice squad for gameday as a COVID-19 replacement and guard Ben Braden from the practice squad.  Deep threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling (hamstring) and All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) were not activated and will benefit from the additional time off as Green Bay will next face the Chiefs in Kansas City on November 7.

The big question is who will step up for Green Bay to provide the offensive spark against an Arizona defense rated first in the league in scoring defense, allowing just 16 points per game.

Will it be Randall Cobb and Robert Tonyan, trusted targets of Rodgers and favorite on third down?  Or could Equanimous St. Brown (one catch this season) and rookie Amari Rodgers elevate their game and also possibly be used by head coach Matt LaFleur in creative ways such as jet sweeps or reverses to augment the rushing attack?  Could Taylor step up and deliver some chunk plays as he did in his stellar 2021 preseason?  Or can Winfree make a difference given more targets?

We’ll know the answer soon.  But Rodgers and Aaron Jones will have to have stellar performances and the Packers defense continue their solid play against Kyler Murray and his array of star receivers DeAndre Hopkins (nursing hamstring injury) and Rondale Moore.  Arizona averages 32 points per game and Kenny Clark will have to pressure the Cardinals star up the middle and the defense find a way to contain the elusive Murray, a dangerous thrower on the run and as a ball carrier.

Arizona will be without JJ Watt, who is out and will undergo potential season-ending shoulder surgery.

The key to Green Bay’s success will be establishing the run game early with Jones, AJ Dillon, and Kylin Hill to quiet the home crowd and keep the Cardinals offense on the sideline.  Jones, Green Bay’s second-leading receiver, will also be a favorite target of Rodgers’ tonight and may be split out wide like a wide receiver to create mismatches on linebackers.

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Chiefs

Cardinals 33, Packers 27

Arizona has played its best against the best, crushing the Tennessee and Los Angeles Rams.  Rodgers and Murray trade blows, but solid Arizona defense is the difference minus Adams, Lazard, and MVS.

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