Dec 30, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) passes against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Not everyone from the other side are viewing Saturday Night’s Wild Card Playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers through purple colored glasses – at least Dan Zinski, the editor over at The Viking Age, is seeing the light.
Last week, he predicted that his Vikings squad will have enough to beat the Packers in the final regular season game.
He was right.
This week, we had the opportunity to throw some questions his way about this week’s more important playoff game and he was kind enough to respond – honestly … in fact, for Vikings fans … brutally honest.
Here’s our exchange …
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Christian Ponder played his best game of the season last week, but the Packers backed off on their normal blitz packages. Do you think Ponder has it in him to turn in another performance like he did last week?
"The blitz question is the key thing. The Packers sort of let Ponder operate. He didn’t have the kind of pressure in his face that he’s had at times this year. And you saw that on a couple of occasions when the Packers did get pressure he didn’t make good throws. That one fluke throw that popped up in the air and Jarius Wright came down with, that was with a man in his face. That ball never should’ve been thrown. If the Packers bring more of that it could really be a problem. But if they just play back I think the Vikings can work the passing game. Bill Musgrave did a good job last week of getting guys open. And of course there’s the whole Adrian Peterson factor. The things he forces a defense to do. If Ponder gets the time, he can play another good game."
Q. Will Peterson rack up another 200-yard game?
"It’s hard to predict 200 yards for any player, even Adrian Peterson. I think he will have a good game because the Adrian PetersonBrace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY SportsPackers simply are not a good tackling team. I don’t see them cleaning those problems up in one short week. Let’s put it this way. If the Vikings’ plan works, Peterson may very well get 200 yards, because the plan will be to get up early and run it to work clock and keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands. So Peterson will get a ton of carries."
Q. When Antoine Winfield left last Sunday’s game because of his broken hand, Aaron Rodgers seems to have amped up the Packers passing game. If Winfield can’t go Saturday, will it similarly affect the Vikings’ defensive backfield?
"The Vikings will be in trouble without Winfield. He’s the guy they count on to cover the slot in the nickel. We saw with the long pass to Jordy Nelson how a team like Green Bay can exploit third corners trying to cover the slot. Marcus Sherels had no chance on that. Winfield has the unique ability to both cover small slot men and be physical enough to handle bigger receivers when teams slide them into the slot looking to create match-up issues. Winfield can come up and pop big receivers at the line and disrupt timing. The Vikings don’t really have another corner who’s capable of matching up that way. Josh Robinson was the guy they drafted to sort of slide into that role but he’s not gotten it done. I think we might see a lot more playing off with the corners if Winfield isn’t in there. We might see less rushing and more dropping into Cover-2 and just letting Rodgers dink and dunk."
Josh Robinson (21) tackles Green Bay Packers wide recevier James Jones.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Q. The Packers’ offensive line was so-so again last Sunday, especially in pass protection. Do you feel the Vikings will bring everything they have against Rodgers or will the defense sit back and hope for some coverage sacks?
"This relates directly to the last question about Winfield. Being able to blitz is really about trusting your DBs. I’m not sure Alan Williams will have the same trust with Winfield not out there. And Harrison Smith is also nursing a bit of a bad shoulder. So this could be a rush-four kind of game. We know how deadly Rodgers can be against the blitz anyway. The Vikings have done well with a more aggressive approach but you need the personnel to play that way."
Q. Your prediction?
"I’m going to get crushed for this by any Viking fans who happen upon this post but I’m taking the Packers. I’m taking the Packers by a lot. I just think the Packers have too much on the line in this game. The Vikings have played well the last month but they’re banged up physically now and I just don’t see the offense clicking for a second straight week. I think the Pack will bring some heat against Ponder and force turnovers. Adrian Peterson will get his yards but they will be dry yards. Lots of good running between the 20s and settling for field goals.Packers 31 Vikings 13"
Tim Thomas: The Packers are looking for revenge against the Minnesota Vikings after Adrian Peterson and company ran right through the Green Bay front seven. B.J. Raji will need to prevent Peterson from getting holes up the middle as this will help in the containment of Peterson while Clay Matthews and Erik Walden need to do a strong containment on the outside. However, I do expect Peterson to have a big game but Christian Ponder is going to have trouble. The Packers’ secondary is expecting to have Charles Woodson back as I expect Woodson and company to get multiple interceptions off of Christian Ponder.
The Packers’ offense is expected to be back at full strength as Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are both probable for tomorrow’s game. Aaron Rodgers has been playing his best recently and Rodgers will be clutch tonight like the elite quarterback that he is. Greg Jennings has been playing better and better every week and I expect him to terrorize the Minnesota secondary. The Packers’ offensive tackles will need to step up, especially Marshall Newhouse as he has the challenge of blocking Pro Bowler Jared Allen which will be a struggle.
The big x-factor for the Packers is being at home in Lambeau Field as Green Bay always has the best and loudest fans in the NFL plus the extreme cold of Lambeau will make the final difference as Green Bay books its ticket in the next round against San Francisco.
Prediction: Green Bay 35, Minnesota 21