Patrick Hughes: Round 3, Green Bay Packers verses the Minnesota Vikings. This is sure to be a classic black and blue division brawl. At mid-week Green Bay was a 7.5 point favorite on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. But I don’t know if I would bet against the spread in this one.
In two games between these two teams Green Bay has yet to demonstrate that they can even remotely keep Adrian Peterson in check. The Packers’ coaching staff said the problem in last week’s game was overpursuing Peterson, allowing him to zig and zag and run past defenders.
There may be some truth to this, but many people this week pointed the finger at Tramon Williams. Some even went so far as to call Williams scared of Peterson. I can’t say that I’d blame him if he was. Whatever the case may be the Packers need to contain Peterson.
For my money, I would put the onus on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ high-powered offense to win this game. For the first time in what seems like forever the Packers will have Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Finley healthy and on the field at the same time. You’d have to believe that the only thing that can cool these guys down is the crisp Wisconsin weather. And that could be the case.
Ray Rivard is predicting that DuJuan Harris will become the Packers’ not-so-secret weapon. He could be right. However it plays out, the best defense against Adrian Peterson will need to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
This is a tough one. Last week I was confident, obviously a bit overconfident, that the Packers would get the job done. They came out flat and allowed Peterson and the Vikings to control the game. If the Packers hope to win this game they need to score early and often and make Christian Ponder try to beat them.
Big exhale … the Packers offense shows up and gets it done.
Packers 28 Vikings 20
Dan Turczynski: An old-fashioned showdown between bitter NFC North rivals will once again take place in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. Last time these two teams met in the playoffs Packers fans saw a “full moon” and an old-fashion beatdown courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings, 31-17 at Lambeau Field.
Vikings’ quarterback Daunte Culpepper lit up the Packers defense for 300 yards and four touchdowns, while Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre threw four interceptions and was sacked twice. Fast-forward to 2013 and what does this all mean? Nothing. Saturday night these two teams will fight for a chance to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs. The two teams split the two matchups during the regular season each winning on their home turf.
Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson has lit up the Packers’ run defense in the two meetings, accumulating more than 400 yards on the ground. At the end of the day the playoffs are a completely different animal for football teams to tackle. Personally I would take a veteran that has a Super Bowl ring on his finger and four playoff victories, over a quarterback who will be making his first career playoff start.
I think the Packers rally from a poor defensive performance last week thanks to all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers and advance to the second round where the San Francisco 49ers will be waiting for them next Saturday evening.
Packers 24 Vikings 13
Thomas Marquardt (who will be at Lambeau Field, BTW): This week in Lambeau will be a different story.
The defense played soft in the secondary last week, and Rodgers was frustrated by the slow spots as they tried to run the no huddle. I expect those things to change this week.
Pressure on Ponder and less selling out to stop Adrian Peterson will make for better overall defense and maybe a turnover or two. I will temper my prediction with what I saw last week.
Packers 27 Vikings 21
Ray Rivard: Last week, the Minnesota Vikings played their best game of the season, Adrian Peterson ran roughshod all over the Green Bay Packers’ defense and they still needed a last second field goal to secure their win-to-get-in victory over the Packers … on their home field.
No matter how many yards AP gets in tonight’s nationally televised Saturday night showdown at Lambeau Field, it won’t be enough. An ailing Christian Ponder will be nowhere near where he needs to be to be a a Packer killer and Green Bay’s defense will get enough pressure on the second-year quarterback to force him into at least a couple of mistakes.
In addition, look for RB DuJuan Harris to do some damage for the Packers in this one – I expect the diminutive back to pick up anywhere from 60-90 important yards to help the Packers balance their offensive attack. I also expect Aaron Rodgers to play lights out, throwing at least three touchdowns and for 300 yards. For the first time in recent memory, Rodgers will have his full complement of receivers available. The Vikings will have serious issues attempting to cover – somebody’s got to be open.
The Vikings will run the field, but only between the 20s as the Packers defense holds them to field goals all the while the Packers offense gets into the end zone. It will be close through the first half, but Rodgers and the Packers offense opens it up in the second half.
Packers 31 Vikings 13
Jason Hirschhorn: The question of whether the Packers can stop Adrian Peterson is immaterial. They cannot. Similarly, it is of no use wondering if the Vikings have an answer for Rodgers. They don’t. Rather, as proven by the two earlier matchups this season, the deciding factor in a Packers/Vikings game is the play of Christian Ponder.
Ponder will almost certainly not be as bad as he was in their first matchup, nor is it particularly likely his play will be as stellar as it was this past Sunday. Ponder is more or less a league average quarterback who faces favorable looks due to the presence of Peterson. That’s enough to be competitive at the quarterback position even if it strongly indicates that team is not a championship contender.
We’ve (prematurely) broken down the return of Charles Woodson, and we believe he’ll have a positive effect on defending Ponder. Statistically, opposing offenses have feasted on Green Bay when passing to their top receiver. Before anyone blames Tramon Williams, it’s not specific to any one defender, left or right side of the field, or type of receiver.
It’s a scheme driven problem, and everyone has been burned. This is an issue that may sink the Packers this year. Fortunately, the Vikings do not possess any obvious top receiver with Percy Harvin on IR. That coupled with the harsh weather should be enough to tie down the Vikings passing game. Unless Peterson has a 300 yard game in him, this one should go to Green Bay.
Packers 28 – Vikings 17
Bill Walton: The Vikings come into Lambeau Field for their playoff game with the Packers with confidence that they will be able to beat Green Bay. That confidence comes primarly from their recent win at home in the last game of the season.
If the Vikings can run the ball with Adrian Peterson as effectively as the did last weekend, they have an excellent chance of winning this game. However, if they are forced to lean on QB Christian Ponder, either because the Packers finally start tackling or because the Packers offense starts well and the Vikings are playing catch-up football, their chances of winning fall dramatically
The Packers are aware of their situation and what they need to do to win this game. For the defense it’s simple. Tackle. Tackle again. And tackle some more. Offensively the Packers will have all their primary weapons back on the field. Number 12 in green will be looking at the best group of four receivers in this or any other league, and he’ll be dealing to all of them. Toting the rock will be DuJuan Harris, Alex Green, and Ryan Grant. McCarthy will stick with the hot hand, but in the weather expected at Lambeau tonight the hot hands had better be securely wrapped around the pigskin. Ball security will be paramount.
Wife Deneen says the Claymaker will have a big game tonight. She sees the Packers winning 28-17. Son John thinks the Packers will take their first step toward Super Bowl XLII when they win 35-14. I’m convinced that the Packers will win 33-21. Go Pack GO!