Friday, January 4, 2013

Previewing Vikings-Packers, Take 3

Last weekend, the world watched from the edge of their seats as Adrian Peterson ran his way towards the record books versus Green Bay. And although he ultimately fell nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 rushing yards in a season, he accomplished a feat far more improbable—he carried Minnesota to the playoffs.
The Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 in the closing seconds of their Week 17 matchup, setting the stage for a primetime rematch this Saturday night to settle their 2012 trilogy once and for all. If Minnesota had lost last week, it would have been their division rivals, the Bears, that clinched the NFC’s second wild-card slot, and the Packers would have earned a first-round bye. Instead, they’ll meet again.
These teams split their two regular season battles, with Green Bay pulling out a 23-14 victory in Week 13. And although these two games had different outcomes, one thing remained constant throughout, and that was Adrian Peterson’s dominance.
Peterson has made a strong case for league MVP this year, averaging 6.0 yards per carry, scoring 13 touchdowns and rushing for a mind-blowing 2,097 yards. It should also be noted that two of his three highest single-game rushing totals have come against this Green Bay defense. He’s averaging 204.5 rushing yards per game versus the Pack and has scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). In both games, Minnesota was able to get an early lead and ride their workhorse back for a good chunk of the game. If they want to have any chance of advancing to the second round of the playoffs, they’re going to have to stick with that strategy.
But it won’t be easy—Green Bay is extremely tough to beat at Lambeau Field. They’ve won seven games in a row at home, and it doesn’t help that this will be Christian Ponder’s first playoff start. And that temperatures are likely to dip into the low teens come kickoff. Aaron Rodgers has four playoff wins under his belt already and has been on an absolute tear of late, finishing up the regular season with 21 more passing touchdowns and four fewer interceptions than Ponder. Needless to say, the confidence scale will be weighing heavily in Green Bay’s favor.
But it’s not all bad news for Minnesota. The Packers are banged up at many of their skill positions, with guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and James Starks headlining their injury report. Rodgers can only be as good as his receivers allow him to be, but even if some of their premiere guys aren’t at 100 percent, this team is simply too deep on offense to be rendered ineffective.
If the Packers are able to build a big lead early and force the Vikings to abandon the run and put the game in Ponder’s hands, it could get ugly. On paper these teams are closer than you might think, but on the frozen tundra in a playoff game? That’s a whole other story.

Prediction: Packers 31, Vikings 20

This article was originally posted on

-fresh (@danye33)

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