Dan Zinski, the editor over at our fansided.com sister site, The Viking Age, took a few moments to answer our five top questions about Sunday’s upcoming tilt between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.
I chalk it up to defensive coordinator Alan Williams fully implementing his scheme. We saw flashes of it earlier in the season – the blitzes, the disguising, the varied looks – but the last few weeks it’s really come together. He’s been very aggressive in dialing up pressure and it’s been very effective. The last three weeks especially they’ve been causing nightmares for quarterbacks. I think part of it is trusting his secondary to hold up. The emergence of Everson Griffen as a terrifying pass rusher has also been a big part. And of course rookie safety Harrison Smith emerging as a terrific player in coverage and run support. Personnel and scheme are greatly improved this year and it will be fun to see what they are able to put together next season after filling a few more remaining holes on the roster (middle linebacker, nose tackle, second safety are the main issues). Of course, blitzing against Aaron Rodgers is always iffy. He has such great chemistry with his receivers and is so good with his reads and adjustments. We’ll see how aggressive Williams is. He didn’t have any problem pulling the trigger against Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub. And both those guys had terrible games.
The word “lead” is the key. For the most part when this team is successful it’s because Ponder plays his little role and doesn’t make any big mistakes. The defense and running game win it. Ponder contributes by converting third downs at a decent clip and, hopefully, not turning the ball over. So I guess what I’m getting at is this: If Ponder has to truly lead the team, then the plan has already failed. Adrian Peterson and the defense must lead the team and Ponder must play his part. That’s the way this team is set up.
Adrian will run tough because it’s who he is. But everyone has their limit. He pulled himself out of the Houston game late after the Vikes already had a lead. He said flat out he just couldn’t go
anymore because of the pain from the abdominal injury and it would be selfish of him to stay in there. So that shows Adrian is human. Houston really knocked him around and he just couldn’t go anymore. It raises the question of whether the Vikings have put too much on Adrian this season. Maybe they should’ve given him a few series off here and there and saved him for this run. But of course no one saw this run coming. Anyway, Adrian will give 100% effort because he always does. If the Packers batter him I think the Vikes will say the heck with the record and let Toby Gerhart take some carries in the second half. The playoff run has to come before the record.
Going into Lambeau and winning is always going to be tough. Going in there with a less-than-great QB and a banged-up Adrian Peterson? It would be a long-shot for the Vikes to win. Then again, I seem to recall a game a few years back when the Vikes went into Lambeau in the first round of the playoffs as a long-shot and pulled off the huge upset. Of course this team doesn’t have Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper. They don’t have Moe Williams either. Does the name “Moe Williams” still make Packer fans flinch?
I think the defense is in a place right now where they can make life very difficult for Aaron Rodgers. So this might come down to whether Rodgers can pull off some road magic and make a couple big plays in the second half to win it. Naturally, the Vikings’ offense will have to get it done as well. This means Adrian Peterson shrugging off his injury and running like the beast he is. From Ponder I just hope to see a sound game without any big mistakes. I don’t expect Ponder to go out there and win it. It’s all about forcing turnovers and not coughing the ball up. If the Vikes win the turnover battle, they usually win the game. They can’t fall behind early or give the ball away because they simply lack the offensive firepower to come back. The formula has worked perfectly three weeks in a row. It just has to work one more time for them to make the playoffs. Yes, they can do it. And I think they will do it. 24-21 Vikings in a thriller. Blair Walsh with the last second field goal, probably after a Mason Crosby miss.