Three things to know about next weekend’s Packers-Cardinals wild-card game:
1. It might be tempting this time of year, but the Packers won’t spend the week in Arizona. Instead, they were scheduled to make the three-hour flight back to Green Bay on Sunday night and then return to Phoenix the day before the re-match. Speaking on the possibility last week, McCarthy said routine is more important than convenience and drew a distinction between the distance between Green Bay and Arizona and, say, the West Coast and the East Coast.
“I think routine is a big part of human regularity,” McCarthy said. “And to change because you're playing in Arizona two weeks in a row? It's a three-hour trip.”
2. The Packers’ chief matchup concern should be their nickel defense against Arizona’s three-receiver sets. You didn’t see much of that Sunday because Cardinals starters didn’t play much, and also because receiver Anquan Boldin left with knee and ankle injuries. But if Boldin plays next weekend, the math doesn’t add up well for the Packers. There is a big dropoff between No. 2 cornerback Tramon Williams and nickelback Jarrett Bush. Unless Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers comes up with something unique, Bush is going to have match up against Boldin, All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald or the dangerous Steve Breaston. That dynamic will be a central focus of conversation this week.
3. You can attach as much significance as you want, but the Packers have manhandled the Cardinals twice this season. Sunday’s score was 33-7, and they had a 38-10 lead at halftime of an Aug. 28 preseason game in which starters played into the third quarter. In those two games, the Packers defense forced seven turnovers. The Packers should return to Arizona with all the confidence in the world, when you combine those two games with the fact that they have won seven of their past eight games.