The NFC is stacked this season, but two of the more popular contenders to represent the conference in Super Bowl 56 meet up on Thursday when the 6-1 Packers visit the 7-0 Cardinals. These two teams have combined to win 13 straight games.
Green Bay was dealt a blow when WR Davante Adams tested positive for COVID. Because of the short turnaround on the Thursday night game, he’ll be unavailable, which has caused the betting line to jump from ARZ +3.5 to ARZ +6.5. Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, though, so does that line movement give even more value to the Packers?
Adams Loss is Huge
Rodgers has a knack for making even the most obscure WRs look good but make no mistake, Adams’ positive COVID test and subsequent absence on Thursday night is going to hurt. Adams is 2nd in the NFL with 52 receptions and 3rd in yards with 744.
There are still some reasons to be optimistic about Green Bay’s chances on Thursday night, however. The big one is that Rodgers has 15 TD to just one interception during the Packers’ six-game win streak – and Adams has only accounted for three of those scoring strikes.
Green Bay will still likely lean slightly more on their running game on Thursday, even though leading rusher Aaron Jones carried the ball just six times last week in a 24-10 win over Washington. The Cardinals rank 18th in the NFL vs. the run (115.7 ypg) but are 3rd defensively vs. the pass allowing just 201.0 ypg.
Cardinals Set to Make Their Claim
There’s still a 44-year-old QB down in Tampa Bay to contend with, but a win over Green Bay on Thursday gives the Cardinals legitimacy that they can indeed not just make the Super Bowl but win it. Arizona is an 8:1 favorite to take home the Lombardi Trophy, tied with division rival Los Angeles at those odds despite beating the Rams 37-20 in week four.
Adams being out for Green Bay does give the Cardinals an advantage, but facing Rodgers is still a big challenge for the Arizona defense. That’s a side of the ball that has shown improvement, though, as the Cardinals have allowed 10, 14, and 5 points the last three games. The Texans managed just 160 yards total in last week’s 31-5 Arizona win.
What Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona staff has to like is that even if Rodgers is his usual great self, they have the confidence that QB Kyler Murray can go toe to toe with the future hall of famer. Murray is completing 73.5% of his passes on the season and has 7 TD to 1 INT the last two weeks. Newly acquired TE Zach Ertz had 66 yards and a score last week, making Arizona even more dangerous offensively.
Packers at Cardinals Pick
Green Bay has a short turnaround, is missing their all-pro receiver, and are playing on the road for the third time in the last four games. Normally that’s not a great recipe for success, but there’s something about this line jumping to +6.5 that just looks too high against a Rodgers-led team.
Expect public betting to be jumping on the over, which has actually dropped 2 points to 50.5. Green Bay’s defense has improved to a top 10 unit in the league, but the dynamics of both offenses are nearly impossible to game plan against – especially on a short week. We may not get Rams-Chiefs 54-51 from a couple of years ago, but there will be points here.
Pick: Over 50.5