Green Bay, Wis. – Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Green Bay Packers' history in meaningful late-season road games would lead you to believe the Arizona Cardinals are going to set offensive records Sunday.
There are just that many bad December performances.
Last year, the Packers gave up 21 points to a bad Buffalo offense in a crushing loss. They gave up 36 to Dallas and 28 to Chicago in their final two road games in '13. They gave up 37 to the Vikings in a season-ending loss in '12 and 35 to the New York Giants in an '11 win.
Now the Packers are back in this place again, and unlike previous years they don't have an offense that can bail them out if they're not able to withstand Arizona's high-octane attack.
You could call this game a measuring stick.
"We are the measuring stick," countered linebacker Julius Peppers. "We don't measure ourselves against anybody else. … We don't have to compare ourselves to anybody. We are the best."
What the defense has accomplished thus far has been good enough to win 10 games.
The Packers sport some numbers that support Peppers' case. For instance, they rank:
• Second in opposing quarterback completion percentage (57.9).
• Third in the NFL in holding opponents to 20 or fewer points (nine).
• Fifth in fewest points allowed per game (18.9).
• Tied for sixth in sacks (38).
• Seventh in lowest opponent passer rating (79.9).
• Ninth in lowest opponent third-down efficiency (36%).
• 10th in interceptions (14).
• 12th in red-zone touchdown percentage (55.8).
Impressive statistics, but the Packers want more.
"We want to see everything go up a level, go up a notch," Peppers said. "The urgency and the execution, the alignments, the fundamentals, the techniques — everything has to go up at this point in the season.
"You're playing playoff football now. It's not technically the playoffs yet, but it really is. So you want to do everything as perfect as you can."
As with most statistics, there is room for interpretation.
In the Packers' case, it can't be ignored that they haven't played a top-10 offense since losing 37-29 to the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 8. The Panthers, the NFL's top-scoring team, jumped to a 27-7 lead and averaged 6.5 yards per play.
The offense the Packers will face Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium might be the best one they see all year. The Cardinals rank in the top 10 in a dozen key offensive statistics, including points (second), third-down efficiency (first), time of possession (first) and yards per play (first).
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown for 32 touchdowns with nine interceptions and averages a league-high 8.8 yards per passing attempt.
Rookie running back David Johnson is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, has scored seven touchdowns on just 105 carries and is coming off a 187-yard, three-touchdown game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
And at wide receiver, the Cardinals don't just have Pro Bowl selection Larry Fitzgerald (99 catches for 1,131 yards and seven touchdowns); No. 2 John Brown is on the cusp of breaking 1,000 yards, and No. 3 Michael Floyd has 45 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns.
"You know there's a reason why I believe they're the No. 1 offense, they have a number of big plays," Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews said. "All their receivers are more than capable, as well as their running back out of the backfield. It's a complete team. We'll have our hands full."
"Defensively, we're looking forward to the challenge," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.