Thursday Night Football has been kind to the Green Bay Packers in recent years. The team is 6-2 in Thursday outings since the inception of a weekly Thursday game back in 2012. Although the two losses have come within the past three seasons, the Pack still have one of the best records in the league on Thursday.
The 6-1 Packers head into a dangerous matchup on Thursday with the NFL’s sole-remaining undefeated team, the 7-0 Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are expected to have players out, with the Pack’s own Davante Adams going on the COVID list and the Cardinals’ J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins not practicing on Monday.
If the Packers want a win, they’ll have to fight valiantly and play very polished football. Here are three Cardinals players that the Pack need to shut down in Week 8.
1. QB Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray is the obvious addition to this list. Murray is without a doubt the toughest QB that the team has faced this year. Not only is Murray a fantastic passer but he also brings the dual-threat aspect to the table, meaning they practically have an extra player to attend to.
Murray is also a heavy MVP candidate, which puts even more pressure on the defense to perform when it means the most. If the Packers are able to limit Murray to the pocket and DeAndre Hopkins ends up missing the game, I like Green Bay’s chances of winning the game.
2. WR Christian Kirk
Although DeAndre Hopkins would be in this spot if he was a guarantee to play, Christian Kirk has been just as good for the Cardinals this year as Hopkins has. Kirk only has three less catches and 18 less yards than the future Hall-of-Fame receiver that is Hopkins, and is on pace to have his best NFL season so far.
Kirk’s 79.5 Pro Football Focus grade is the second highest on his team, meaning he is definitely a player to keep your eye on – especially if Hopkins doesn’t suit up.
3. Edge Markus Golden
Park your Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt hype trains, because Markus Golden has been a better pass rusher in the 2021 campaign. Even though Golden has played two more games than Jones, he’s amassed six sacks and 16 total pressures.
Jones does have five sacks, but those all came in Week 1. There’s no doubt that Golden has taken advantage of Jones’ COVID absence, but he’s still produced more than the former All-Pro.
Golden is playing the best football of his career, and could easily be a difference maker in the game. We saw the relentless pass rush of the Washington Football Team give the Packers a headache at times and we could see the same thing this week if Golden, Watt and Jones are all in full force.