With seven weeks of football behind us, there are some intriguing matchups in Week 8 to look forward to. The biggest of them is the Thursday Night Football game between the undefeated Arizona Cardinals and the 6-1 Green Bay Packers in a potential NFC Championship preview.
Kyler Murray and Arizona have looked unstoppable thus far, and the Packers have rattled off six straight victories after an opening day loss to the New Orleans Saints, which now looks a fluke.
But the Cardinals’ chances of remaining undefeated just got a whole lot better as COVID-19 issues continue to strike the Green Bay team.
Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins showdown in serious jeopardy as Packers deal with COVID-19 issues
With just days until the game, the Packers announced that defensive coordinator Joe Barry would miss Thursday’s contest after testing positive for the coronavirus. It didn’t stop there.
The Packers are also in jeopardy of being without star wide receiver Davante Adams, who popped up on the COVID-19 list on Monday as well.
For the time being, there is still an outside shot that Adams could suit up for the game, although it is doubtful. If he can’t, that would be a massive blow to Green Bay as it would be without Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite target and one of the NFL’s best receivers.
The absence of Adams changes the game plan drastically for Matt LaFleur and the offense. Barring a miracle, they will have to make due, and the highly-anticipated wide receiver showdown of Adams and DeAndre Hopkins will have to wait.
The Cardinals’ chances improve with the loss of Adams
The Cardinals have rushed out to an impressive 7-0 start and the best mark in the NFL. Murray is playing at an MVP level, Hopkins is doing Hopkins things, and the running back duo of James Conner and Chase Edmonds has worked out well.
The defense — led by newcomer J.J. Watt — is much improved, and Chandler Jones has enjoyed success opposite Watt. On Monday, Jones himself was activated from the COVID-19 reserve list and should be ready to roll for Thursday’s game.
As if the Cardinals needed anything else to go their way, Green Bay will likely be without its defensive coordinator and top receiver with many other injuries affecting the team.
But having Aaron Rodgers under center helps, and regardless, this game should be jam-packed on a wild Thursday night.
Cardinals-Packers has massive playoff implications for both sides
As the season nears the halfway point, both the Packers and Cardinals are lobbying for the top seed in the NFC. Right now, the Cardinals are holding on tightly and don’t seem likely to slow down anytime soon.
As it is, the winner of this game could briefly take over the top spot in the NFC, although the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both sit at 6-1 on the season.
Make no mistake: This could be an NFC Championship Game preview, especially given the way both quarterbacks are performing. The reigning MVP against the MVP favorite in prime-time is must-watch television, with or without Adams.
If the Packers’ top pass-catcher can’t go — as expected — the Cardinals’ shot of moving to 8-0 would get that much better, and Murray’s resume would continue to build itself in a stellar 2021 campaign.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference