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Heroes and Goats: Packers vs. Cardinals — Divisional Playoffs

Survive and Advance. You can win ugly as long as you win. There is no selection committee to impress. While the Arizona Cardinals won ugly Saturday, they won. They’re guaranteed a spot in the NFC Championship game. One win away from Super Bowl 50.

The biggest concern that Cardinals fans should have about the playoffs is whether the Cards can win without exceptional play from quarterback Carson Palmer. We learned last night that they can win without him, but they probably don’t want to see another game like last night’s for a while.

On to the NFC Championship Game.

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Patrick Peterson, CB — What was impressive about Peterson last night was not only his shutdown on the field, or his relations to the fans on the sideline. It was his willingness to engage with the national media. Peterson is making a bid to be the national face of the Arizona Cardinals.

Michael Floyd, WR — Lack of focus has dogged the former Golden Domer his entire career. With two touchdown catches and a couple big first down grabs on difficult throws, Floyd still makes you hold your breath when the ball goes his way. It’s just now that when you exhale it’s more likely to be a cheer than a sigh.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR — What to say at this point about Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs? He’s the emotional heart of the offense. He’s got a tremendous sense of moment. If this playoffs is Patrick Peterson’s coming-out party, it’s also Larry Fitzgerald’s victory lap. He’s our hometown hero.

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Justin Bethel, CB — It’s not fair to make Justin Bethel wear the cap every game. Not when he’s the guy playing across from Patrick Peterson. The problem is that Bethel is continuing to let quarterbacks challenge him. He has to start making plays on the ball.

Carson Palmer, QB — A lot of the same bad decisions that clanged harmlessly to the ground early in the season ended up interceptions in this game. This was more than nerves — it’s possible that Green Bay figured the same things out about Carson Palmer that the Seattle Seahawks may have.

James Bettcher, Defensive Coordinator —Apologists will point to the Packers only scoring 20 points and need a hail mary to reach that total — which is fair. But its difficult to argue that a toothless Packers offense was able to execute their primary game plan for 4 quarters.

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