GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy does not want his team thinking like the underdog heading into Arizona for Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game.
McCarthy made that clear at the start of the week. But how else can anyone view the Packers after they got blown out by the Cardinals less than three weeks ago? The Packers' 38-8 loss in Week 16 was as ugly as any game they played this season.
Maybe there's a way that can work in Green Bay's favor.
"Well, the pressure's all going to be on them," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. "They're coming off a tough loss at home against Seattle. Before that they blew us out. They're the Super Bowl favorites, and obviously the favorite team on Saturday night, so we've just got to go out, be loose, let it all hang out, because the pressure's all on that side."
Rodgers said the situation reminded him of the 2010-2011 NBA season, when the Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Dallas Mavericks by 28 points late in the regular season, but the Mavericks came back to sweep them in the Western Conference semifinals.
"Stuff happens all the time," he said. "We're all fans of sports, we know how it goes, anything can happen. We're going in as the underdogs. We're going to be loose and ready to go, and it's going to be their stadium, it's going to be rocking, but the pressure's going to be on them."
The Packers are seven-point underdogs this week, and in an ESPN Power Ranking poll of the eight remaining playoff teams, they came in seventh, ahead of only the Pittsburgh Steelers and their banged-up quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
The Packers might be in much better shape heading to Arizona than they were for the regular-season game even though they're not likely to have receiver Davante Adams, who has a sprained MCL. They entered that first game without left tackle David Bakhtiari and lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga during the game.
Rodgers was sacked eight times before McCarthy mercifully took him out in the fourth quarter, and backup quarterback Scott Tolzien was sacked once.
Bakhtiari hasn't played since, but there's reason to think he could return this week. He practiced Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis, and said he thinks another week of rest has helped.
Cornerback Sam Shields also returned to practice Wednesday and has a chance to be cleared from the concussion protocol after missing the last four games.