We rarely read much into the preseason, since it’s basically glorified practice with a full-price ticket.
But the next-to-last preseason game gets plenty of focus, because it’s essentially a dry run for the coming year.
If that’s the case for the defending NFC champions, the Cardinals could be in the process of drilling a dry hole.
Through the first half of Friday night’s game between Arizona and Green Bay, the Packers have pinballed the Cards for 38 points and 357 yards. (It could have been worse; a late touchdown was called back due to a penalty, and Mason Crosby missed a 29-yard field goal as that drive fizzled.)
The outcome isn’t really shocking. We’ve been saying that the expectations for the 2009 Cardinals are way too high, given significant turnover in the coaching staff and a team that barely finished the 2008 season on the right side of .500.
Of the Cardinals’ seven losses last year, they gave up on average more than 44 points in five of them.
The Packers, on the other hand, have been a bit of an enigma. The offense is expected to be sharp, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is looking more and more like the mid-1990s version of the guy they pitched overboard in 2008. But the defense is the big question mark, as the Pack are installing a new 3-4 attack. Allowing only 10 points to the high-octane Arizona offense should help them build confidence.
At this point, it’s hard to tell whether the Cardinals will be really bad or the Packers will be really good or whether it’ll be a little of both. But, for now, it’s clear that Green Bay is firing on all cylinders — and that the Cardinals might still be sniffing the fumes of an unlikely playoff run that is, for all practical purposes, ancient history.