Whisenhunt, the Packers and mind games

Kevin Seifert takes Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt behind the NFC North woodshed for indirectly taking offense at the Packers' tactics in two meaningless games at Arizona.

I don't know how much Whisenhunt cares about the 38-10 halftime lead Green Bay built against his team during the third week of the exhibition season. I'm not sure how much sleep he's losing over the Packers' aggressive approach during a 33-7 victory at Arizona in Week 17.

I do know Whisenhunt wants to motivate his team, and he can do that by suggesting all sorts of things, including that the Packers somehow wronged or exploited his team. Whisenhunt has described as frustrating his approach to the Week 17 game, noting that he wasn't going to dip into the playoff game plan.

Flashing back to August, Whisenhunt treated the exhibition game against Green Bay as a "wakeup call" for the Cardinals, while noting that the Packers "schemed some things" to succeed in the game.

"Our guys just showed up," he said at the time. "They did not come to play."

Green Bay had its way with Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in that game. My postgame observations pointed to numerous Packers blitzes that seemed to catch Arizona unprepared.

These sorts of pregame discussions help frame the postgame analysis even when it's tough to know what role they played. I think the Packers and Cardinals took mostly logical approaches for their teams in Week 17. Green Bay, a team without as much playoff experience in some positions such as quarterback, wanted to build momentum. Arizona, fresh off a Super Bowl run last season, wanted to protect its players.