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Packers at Cardinals
Wild Card Playoff Game
I've been handicapping football games on a serious level for 27 years. If you told me I could only use one or two statistics to handicap a game, one of those stats would be turnover margin. It doesn't take a genius to see the correlation between turnover margin and success in a football game, or success in a football season. Let's take a look at this years best and worst in turnover margin to further clarify this point.
We'll start with the good.
Green Bay Packers +24
Now let's take a look at the bad...........
Arizona Cardinals -8
There you have it. All the playoff teams are up in the plus column while the pathetic teams are all in the minus column. It's like that every year. It's like that in the NFL. It's like that in College football. It's like that in High School Football. It's like that in pee wee football and it's like that on the playground. That stat will never change. There are very few exceptions, if at all.
Here we have a game with the #1 team in turnover margin, the Packers, with a whopping +24, which is +9 more than the #2 margin team the Eagles, going up against a Cardinal team that is among the dregs of the NFL in this category.
The Packers led the NFL in takeaways at 40, 30 of those were interceptions. The Cardinals led the NFL in fumbles with 32 and also led the NFL in fumbles lost with 18.
In all honestly, a turnover differential like this is enough for me to take a side in a pick em game. Simply because turnover margin tells you that a team is doing things right in other phases of the game. In this case, it's the Packers run defense which ranks #2 in the NFL. They are so good against the run, it forces teams into passing situations which leads to what class? Yes, that's correct, Interceptions!
There's more to this game than turnovers though. The Cardinals are a banged up team. They are a team that performed better on the road than at home. At home they were 4-4 and were outscored 32-21. Hardly a home field advantage. They also lost 3 of their last 6 games while the Packers have won 7 of their last 8 games, their only loss a 1 point heartbreaker loss to the Steelers a few weeks pack. Winning breeds winning.
Last weeks game between these two means nothing. Warner and the rest of the Cards sat after just 6 plays. But we have plenty of evidence from the rest of the season to suggest that the Packers are the better team here. The real playoff team set to potentially make a run deep into the playoffs. 2* Packers pk
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