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Packers vs. Vikings: Things You Could Watch and a Prediction

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Packers vs. Vikings: Things You Could Watch and a Prediction

With a split regular-season series for just the second time since 2004, the Green Bay Packers (11-5) and Minnesota Vikings (10-6) need a playoff game to decide who really wins the 2012-13 chapter of the 51-year-old rivalry.

The Vikings beat the Packers on Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired in Week 17, which set up a rematch in the NFC Wild Card at Lambeau Field Saturday. The Packers beat the Vikings in Week 13, 23-14.

Below, we look at the things you could watch during Saturday's NFC Wild Card Round:

Newhouse Repeat?

Despite facing Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen on over 90 percent of the pass-protection snaps, Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse was not credited for a single sack against the Vikings this season. His ability to protect on an island against Allen is important, mostly because rookie right tackle Don Barclay is likely to need help against both Brian Robison (8.5 sacks) and Everson Griffen (8.0).

If Newhouse is overmatched early and the Packers are forced to provide help to both offensive tackles Saturday, the offense's usage of the four- and five-wide sets will naturally have to decrease. The Packers can't afford a second shaky performance from Newhouse in the postseason.

Containing Peterson? It's an Inside Job

Adrian Peterson's 409 combined yards against the Packers this season make it very unlikely that Green Bay is able to keep the Vikings' MVP candidate from breaking the century mark Saturday. But to stop Peterson from running completely wild again, the Packers have to do a better job of keeping Peterson between the tackles.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Green Bay allowed Peterson to average a staggering 13.7 yards a carry outside the tackles in two meetings this season. Overall, it's been a problem for the Packers defense all season. Teams are averaging 7.0 yards a carry outside the tackles against Green Bay this season, good for second worst in the NFL. If Peterson is able to break contain and get to the corners again, expect another huge stat line Saturday.

Cold, Hard Truth

Saturday night is going to be cold. You know it. The Packers know it. And the Vikings know it. While most of the attention has been placed on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and his inexperience in the cold, the Packers must be wary of another potential impact of the temperature: tackling.

Bringing down Peterson was difficult for Green Bay indoors, as evidenced by the 11 tackles he broke in Week 17. Knock down the temperature 60 degrees, and the Packers certainly have their work cut out for them against the 220-pound Peterson. Can Dom Capers' unit improve dramatically in the tackle department playing in sub-freezing weather against the NFL's leader in yards after contact? They need to.

Winfield's Availability

The Vikings' ability to compete against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game may hinge on how cornerback Antoine Winfield's hand holds up Saturday. In Week 17, Winfield had to leave after just 18 snaps because of pain and swelling in his broken right hand. He's expected to play Saturday with a cast and padding to protect the hand.

His effectiveness with the injury will likely be limited, but consider what Rodgers did after Winfield went out last Sunday: From snap 19 on, Rodgers threw for over 300 of his 345 yards and the Packers scored all 34 of their points. Backup slot cornerback Marcus Sherels allowed over 160 passing yards, including Jordy Nelson's 73-yard catch in the second half. The Vikings need Winfield available for all 60 minutes Saturday, if for no other reason than keeping Sherels off the field.

Ponder in the Big Spots

In the first meeting, the Packers blitzed Ponder on nearly every passing third down and also forced turnovers on two separate occasions when the Vikings were either in or near the red zone. That all changed in Week 17. Capers played more coverage on third downs, and Ponder was near perfect inside the Packers' 20-yard line.

Ponder's decision-making in both spots might be the X-factor Saturday. When the Packers get Minnesota into obvious passing third downs, the defense has to get off the field. Whether Capers uses pressure or not, Minnesota can't extend drives when playing behind the sticks on third down. And just one bad decision from Ponder inside the red zone could be the difference for a Packers defense that allowed 444 yards in the second meeting.

Matchups You Could Watch: Packers RB DuJuan Harris vs. Vikings Front Seven; Packers S Charles Woodson vs. Vikings QB Christian Ponder

While Rodgers threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns in Week 17, don't discount how important the run game remains for the Packers. During an 8-1 stretch before the season finale, Green Bay averaged almost 130 yards on the ground. Harris is expected to get the first crack in the Packers' backfield after rushing for 70 yards on 14 carries in Week 17.

On defense, how Capers will use Woodson in his first game back from a broken collarbone remains a mystery. Casey Hayward (six interceptions) is expected to remain the primary slot corner. However, Woodson picked off Ponder twice in his first NFL start and can be a playmaker at the backend. Ponder and Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will have to get an early feel for how Capers is utilizing the 36-year-old Woodson.


The Packers losing at home against a Christian Ponder-led Vikings team would be a major black eye on the postseason resumes of both Rodgers and Mike McCarthy. That said, it's very difficult to envision Ponder replicating his Week 17 stat line of 234 yards and three touchdowns on just 28 attempts Saturday. The Vikings likely need something similar from Ponder to win at Lambeau Field, where the Packers have won 20 of their last 22 games overall. Green Bay could run away with it if Ponder isn't perfect again.

Packers 31, Vikings 20 (Season record: 10-6)

Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

cow42's picture


pooch's picture

WTF Cow ...your speechless

MarkinMadison's picture


Calf21's picture


Kparis99's picture


Steven's picture

Maybe he actuallu believes.... lol. Pack on top 35 21 sweet revenge harris 100 yards

Smith's picture

The Vikings (especially Ponder) will have to play a perfect game and also hope the Packers play as bad, or worse than they did last week. That's the only chance MN has to beat GB at home. I just don't see it happening.

Derek's picture

Our tackling of RBs on outside runs is just terrible. When your DL and OLBs are taking up blocks, the ILBs need to make the tackles. Jones and Hawk simply didn't do that vs. the Vikings. They must have better games, and for God's sake, tackle AP low!!!!!

Beep's picture

So true to tackle AP low. Just throw your body in his legs and trip him up. I'm tired of seeing guys try to knock him down from the shoulder pads and bounce right off.

hayward4president's picture

Basically....GO PACK GO!

hayward4president's picture

24 14 pack. We get an early lead..n keep it.

A-rodg's Mustache's picture

I just dont get why this game has me so freaking nervous?!?!?

IS ponder finally comming out of his shell?
WILL AP run all over us again?
Can we finally turn our fourtunes around and get a Lambeau playoff win?

Either way I will be watching..
I truly think AR and MM MUST win this game to cement a legacy.

30-20 pack
GO Pack GO!!

A-rodg's Mustache's picture

...and lastly ...
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone tackle AP below the waist!
If i see one more "low-light" of B.jones trying to play patty cake with AP im going to puke. HIT THE GUY IN THE LEGS. This is football. It alomst looks like they are afraid of breaking his knee again! Some tell the pack D that if they dont tackle him the season will end in embarassment. Its totally legal in todays NFL to tear an opposing RB's Acl. cant give him a concussion but sure can take him out...

Evan's picture

Ponder hasn't practiced fully all-week. I wonder what effect his elbow injury will have on tomorrow's game.

Evan's picture

Ponder officially "questionable." Interesting. As is Winfield. I'm sure both will play, but one solid hit should knock both out.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

His first game under 40 degrees,we"ll also see how the Vikings recievers will catch the ball under these conditions.The Pack put up 55" a few weeks ago so you know they can score in bad weather,So just saying

mark's picture


mark's picture

652 - 3, Packers

Shavager's picture

A HUGE problem for Packers against Vikings is reluctance of CB Tramon "Chicken" Williams to attack Peterson to tackle him. Since the FIRST game of season vs Vikings--Peterson and Vikings players were LAUGHING on the bench during the game about "Chicken" Williams being SCARED to tackle Peterson. In the loss last Sunday "Chicken" Williams ducked, dodged and avoided any contact with Peterson on runs--PROVING that Vikings were right and they will RUN AT "Chicken" again this week. Time for GB to stop PRETENDING to be a NFL caliber team and TACKLE! Take Peterson's legs out from under him--hit those legs and knock him down-too many DB's and LB's are hitting him high instead. As Vince Lombardi extolled his '67 NFL Champions before SBII: "Just HIT, just RUN, just BLOCK, just TACKLE. There's no question what the answer's gonna be in this ballgame."---Those words from the Coach with MOST NFL CHAMPIONSHIPS--heed his words, McCarthy and Packers!

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

He has the flu he may not play.While your killing him you forgot to mention the 4 points he cost us with that stupid penalty on 3rd and goal.He was my favorite db at won time,no 2010 SB with out him but now I just don't know.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I was a week off, now is the time.

GBP 38-13

AD is out with a knee injury (a Packer fan Nancy Kerrigans his ass at the hotey tonight).

hayward4president's picture

+ 5

cow42's picture

I kinda feel like the Packers are gonna kick the sh*t out of the vikings.

cow42's picture

oops - that was jut the PBR talking (damn beer muscles).

forgot about our OL and LB's.

my bad.

Steven's picture

Hahahahahah wait..... that wasnt funny. Dang cow you viking fans are jerks

Jake's picture

PBR ughh. What are you a hipster?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Was wondering the same thing. He probably has some super skinny jeans, and shmedium shirts.

hayward4president's picture

Must have wanted to spend Gameday on the crapper.

hayward4president's picture

Speaking of game day let's fn go up in here! Best damn day of the year!! Goooo PACK gooo! CM3 you better go off this game!

2 share owner's picture


Michael from Winnipeg's picture

I've been thinking on how to stop AP, and still limit Ponder. Wouldnt it be a good idea to bring back "Big Okie". Put Woodson in as your Chillar? Granted CW isnt a LB, but he can play like one. He would be the 5th linebacker who can either help stop the run, or in passing situations be the extra DB? And with CW not playing lately, you keep the secondary as it is, and this would be a great position to put him in, instead of having him take over someone's postion, or in sub-packages. Am I crazy?

greenbowl's picture

Michael....your not crazy. I think
Woodson is going to make a play.....A big play when he's in the box tonight. 31-19 Packers.

hayward4president's picture

19 as in we miss an extra point or they get a safety?

hayward4president's picture

Or one td and 4 Fgs

Evan's picture

Joe Webb?!?

More or less confident?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Either or. I'm confident.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

If the Pack loses to Joe Webb I'm changing my identity and won't be seen for a year

I bleed Green More's picture

Its Peterson they are playing, anyone think Webb is going to change things that much.

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