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Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge: Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Preview

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Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers Playoff Preview


Saturday brings the kickoff to Wild Card Weekend, which is regarded by many as the most exciting weekend of the NFL season. We will break down several important statistics that will dictate the outcome of each game. Based on these stats, we will identify which players will make a big impact from a fantasy football perspective. If you haven’t already joined the Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge, then I would recommend it.

The second game of the weekend is Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers which kicks off at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday.

These teams are very familiar with each other and this marks the third time that they meet this season. The core players on each team have been the same for two years now, meaning that this is the fifth time that they will match up over that span. With all that experience in their favor, these teams know each other almost as well as they know themselves. They have extensive game film on each other, including games as recent as last week. Minnesota beat Green Bay to clinch a playoff berth but that was their only win in their last four matchups. Green Bay has won the last two home games in this series by an average of 24 points.

Minnesota and Green Bay have completely contrasting strengths and weaknesses which creates an interesting scenario on Saturday. To make it more interesting each teams strengths on offense correspond with their oppositions weaknesses on defense and vice versa.

Follow the slideshow to see who will win this matchup on Saturday and why.

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Passing Game

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Green Bay Packers


Completions per Game:

Vikings: 18.8

Packers: 23.4

Third Down Conversion Percentage:

Vikings: 37.14%

Packers: 42.25%

Average Team Passer Rating:

Vikings: 81.2

Packers: 108.3

Opponent Average Team Passer Rating:

Vikings: 92.3

Packers: 76.8

Green Bay has the clear advantage in the passing game. Aaron Rodgers and his plethora of weapons completely overshadow Christian Ponder and his lack of receiving options. Ponder performed admirably in Week 17 but on a bigger stage and in the cold conditions at Green Bay, he will struggle. Green Bay has a weak offensive line but Minnesota has been unable to get pressure on Rodgers in the first two meetings between these teams.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Aaron Rodgers, 2. Greg Jennings, 3. Randall Cobb, 4. Jordy Nelson, 5. James Jones, 6. Christian Ponder, 7. Kyle Rudolph

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Running Game

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings


Rushing Play Percentage:

Vikings: 48.55%

Packers: 41.55%

Yards per Rush Attempt:

Vikings: 5.4

Packers: 3.9

Opponent Yards per Rush Attempt:

Vikings: 4.0

Packers: 4.5

The numbers clearly point to Minnesota as the favorite in the run game but they don't do it nearly enough justice. Adrian Peterson is perhaps the best running back we've ever seen and Alex Green is perhaps the best running back we've seen at demonstrating what not to do. Green routinely misses open holes and goes down without a fight. Peterson couldn't be more of the opposite, slashing and aggressively taking on defenders. Minnesota has dominated on the ground in the first two meetings and despite the best efforts from Green Bay, they will likely do so again on Saturday.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Adrian Peterson, 2. Alex Green

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Benny Sieu-US Presswire

Advantage: Green Bay Packers


Total Defense:

Vikings: 21st

Packers: 8th

Sacks per Game:

Vikings: 2.8

Packers: 2.9

Opponent Points per Game:

Vikings: 21.8

Packers: 21.0

This isn't the Green Bay defense that many regarded as the worst in 2012. They rank 11th in total yards against compared to dead last in 2012 and are finally returning their starters from injury. If the Packers can limit Adrian Peterson to any extent and force Christian Ponder to throw in the crisp Green Bay evening then things can get ugly.

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Green Bay Defense, 2. Minnesota Defense

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Special Teams

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Advantage: Minnesota Vikings


Special Teams Rank*:

Vikings: 5th

Packers: 18th

*Points each team receives from the five elements of special teams: field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kick returns, punts, punt returns.

If it weren't for the huge disparity between the two running games, I would regard this as the largest advantage for Minnesota. This could be a potential difference maker in a close game because Mason Crosby has been very inaccurate this season. He has made his last four attempts but his percentage still lingers at 63.6%. On the contrary, rookie Blair Walsh has converted 35 of his 38 attempts. Minnesota also holds a slight advantage in the punt game but Randall Cobb gives Green Bay the edge in returning kicks

Top Fantasy Players: 1. Blair Walsh, 2. Mason Crosby

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Outcome: Minnesota Vikings - 16, Green Bay Packers - 24

Turnover Margin:

Vikings: -1

Packers: +7

Penalties per Game:

Vikings: 5.6

Packers: 6.4

Last 3 Games:

Vikings: 3-0

Packers: 2-1

Home/Away Record:

Vikings: 3-5 away

Packers: 7-1 home

Green Bay is the more talented team overall; combined with their playoff experience and home field advantage, the Packers have a clear edge. Game breaker Percy Harvin would have been a difference maker and his talents will be sorely missed in this game. Aaron Rodgers is used to these conditions, while Minnesota is accustomed to playing in a dome. Combine a 3-5 away record with the wind and the cold of Green Bay and you get a poor result for Minnesota.