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Cory's Corner: Running game will decide NFC North

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Cory's Corner: Running game will decide NFC North

This is when running backs make their money.

When the weather gets nasty.

The football becomes harder than a boulder, making receivers’ fingers shriek in horror.

The kickoff temperature at Lambeau Field between Minnesota and Green Bay is set to be 24 degrees with a 25 percent chance of snow.

And with the NFC North title and a playoff game at home on the line, the night game will be decided by Adrian Peterson or Eddie Lacy.

In the month of December, Peterson has 570 rushes for 2,687 yards and 22 touchdowns. Since he’s a strong back, he’s perfect for unleashing hits in the cold.

But if the Packers are going to have more success against the future Hall of Famer, the defense must show up on first down. Sixty-six percent of Peterson’s 1,418 yards this season have come on first down.

“Hopefully if we take anything away from the first game, you can’t let him get started,” said inside linebacker Clay Matthews, who noted that the Packers held Peterson to 45 yards on 13 carries in a 30-13 Packers win on Nov. 22. “You look at all his runs, he’ll take it anywhere on the field. He doesn’t take it to the designed hole most of the time.”

Like Peterson, Lacy tries to shake defenders at the line of scrimmage. However, his bouts of foot fire have been quite costly this season. Lacy’s season has been ironic. He gets stronger as the game goes on by daring defenders to tackle him in the second half. However, he’s only been given the ball over 20 times twice this year.

And to make matters worse, Lacy is dealing with a pesky rib injury.

“It sucks,” said Lacy, who has 454 fewer yards this year than his rookie campaign of 2013 with the same number of games. “Like I said, it’s a pain tolerance thing and I think I have a pretty good pain tolerance. We’re going to get it padded up and go out and play.”

What sets Lacy apart is what he does in the winter. He has 200 carries for 936 yards and nine touchdowns in December.

And surprisingly enough, Peterson only owns a .03 yards per carry advantage over Lacy in the final month of the year.

The only difference is how quick they read the hole and what they do when they reach the second level. Peterson always seems to be going downhill with a full head of steam. He will then have a last-second decision and if the defense stays true to their assignment, he would be bottled up.

Lacy, on the other hand, is a little bit different. He scampers up to the line of scrimmage searching desperately for a hole. When he sees a sliver of light, he will go through. However, he usually spends too much time calculating what to do. And even when he does make a quick decision, he follows it up with his tried and true spin move.

Green Bay’s running game is even more imperative since Aaron Rodgers is ranked 31st in the NFL in yards per attempt at 6.69. That’s behind backups Blaine Gabbert, Brock Osweiler and yes, even Johnny Manziel. Rodgers is only completing 49 percent of his passes on third down with 1-8 yards to go.

Teddy Bridgewater is completing 65 percent of his passes on the same third down distances and is No. 22 in yards per attempt at 7.32.

That’s why Lacy must bring his cape to Lambeau and turn into the workhorse. The Packers passing game has been about as reliable as Wisconsin winter golf — which there was plenty of this year, thanks to El Niño.

It’s pretty simple. Whoever wins the running battle between Peterson and Lacy will be awarded with a playoff home game. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

You are right. The running game will decide the game (along with turn overs).

I expect GBs superior OL, even while hurt, to make down and distance really tough on Teddy Two Gloves. I also expect that even in a down year, GB to make the plays when they are needed. A HOF QB kind of does that for you.

ray nichkee's picture

Imperatice, had to look it up. Did you mean imperative?

The game is pretty much summed up in the article. James jones should give lacy a lucky hoodie for the game. I will be pissed if i see the child beater running all over lambeau.

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Good catch.

ray nichkee's picture

Everone has typos. I thought for a minute i was going to learn a new word today.

sheppercheeser's picture

I'm not so sure the running game will be the deciding factor. I feel it may come down to Hyde's ability to cover Rudolph- he sure couldn't last time!

Ferrari Driver's picture

If Cory is correct and it comes down to the running game, I'll go with Peterson, the future hall of famer, by a long margin.

I don't agree with him though and believe the Packers will win the game in spite of the Vikings advantage at RB.

croatpackfan's picture

Unfortunatelly, passing game this season is not on Ferrari level for Packers...

Curry Rambeau's picture

Most of our fans have written off Lacy as fat, indecisive and slow. So there goes the Packers' running game. Starks has one move and then fumbles consistently this last month. Crockett is unproven, and Peterson will prove to be difficult to tackle by our undersized db's and rookie Ryan. Another Sunday night embarrassment might be the last straw. Let's hope the blocking and tackling are superb, and it's a low scoring game.

Tarynfor12's picture

Even if Lacy has a good game the Packers still need passing game success to a much higher level than has been. Relying on Lacy to spin his way to victory will only make you dizzy

Allan Murphy's picture

I just have this feeling Eddie and James have 246 yards in this game rushing combined .

EdsLaces's picture

Adrian Beaturson under 100 n we win if over 100 ...eeeek.

Dan Stodola's picture

I think the QB's decide the game. Teddy's played really well of late, w/ the help of a running game. Rodgers hasn't played to his usual standards. Whichever QB has the better game will decide the game. Goes w/o saying that the RB help the QB's, but in the end the QB's will still decide the game, as they do most NFL games.

Ima fubar's picture

What football have you been watching this year? The Vikes pass rush, superior special teams play and defense will decide this game since the packers have none of the above. and Rogers aint passing his way out of this mess.

Tundraboy's picture

Do not see Vikes having a superior defense. Or special teams.

ray nichkee's picture

Hes a troll tundraboy. He wants the pack to lose so he can come back next week and talk shit.

Samson's picture

Do you know what's as bad as a troll ?? -- Someone who's obsessed with trolls -- such as yourself. -- Try football.

ray nichkee's picture

Go fuck yourself samson. You are just being a dickhead. You cant even scroll up and see my football post. Its up there before my troll comment. It had nothing to do with trolls. If you think i come here to talk shit you dont know what youre talking about. I cant stand trolls. Get over it. This site is losing everything that was cool about it with all the trolling and name changing and multiple IDs. I am real and i talk football if you care to look back. If you can ignore the trolls you can ignore me.

Tundraboy's picture

Thanks Ray. I know., I know. Just couldn't help myself. Lol

Samson's picture

Have to agree with one of the above comments. ----- AP & Lacy won't decide this game. AR & Bridgewater are front & center. -- The QBs and turnovers will decide the final score.

CallingIt's picture

GB's wide bodies decide this game. OL has to improve significantly to open holes and protect AR. DL has to pressure and contain. If either one breaks down, we're toast

dobber's picture

It seems to me that we were saying pretty much all of these same things leading into the game in the Twin Cities several weeks ago.

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