The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings have played each other two times already this season with the teams splitting the season series, both of them winning at home. Minnesota will be heading back to Lambeau Field for the wild-card playoff matchup in one most people considering the best game of the weekend. In the two games prior, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has had two opposite performances. If the Packers want to win this weekend, they need to make sure he has another poor performance like he had back in Week 13.
In Week 13, Ponder only completed 12 of his 25 passes for 119 yards. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions, both of which were in the red zone. Running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 210 yards that day and was the only bright spot in the Vikings offense in the 23-14 loss. The Vikings defense held strong and gave the team the lead heading into halftime 14-10, but the offense failed to score in the entire second half, in large part due to Ponder’s performance. With the Packers taking the lead, the Vikings were forced to start throwing the ball more and relying less on Peterson to carry the load.
During last week’s game, Ponder had a much better performance. He finished the day going 16-for-28 for 234 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Peterson still had the same type of game, rushing for 199 yards, but with Ponder have a good day, the Vikings were able to score 37 points and take the victory on their way to the sixth seed in the playoffs.
The consensus seems to be that the Packers have to slow down Peterson if they want to win this weekend. However, Peterson is going to get his carries and his yards no matter what Green Bay tries. He hasn’t been stopped all season so most likely it will be hard for the Packers to do. Ponder has struggled for most of the season and it would benefit the Packers if they made sure the passing game was not there. The Vikings were a one-dimensional when they lost, but when they won last weekend the offense was firing on all cylinders.
The one aspect of the Vikings passing game that the Green Bay defense needs to stop the most is the play-action game. The threat of the run gave Ponder plenty of time to throw the ball and froze the secondary enough to get receivers open down the field. Play-action also allows Ponder to gt outside of the pocket which is where he is more efficient. Also, with cornerback Charles Woodson coming back, it should give the Packers extra depth and a better chance at stopping the pass and causing turnovers than it would be at stopping Peterson and the Vikings running attack.
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