Vikings vs. Packers 2013 NFL Playoff Preview
Vikings at Packers
(10-6) #6 seed Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (11-5)
The Vikings are 3-5 on the road, while the Packers are 7-1 at home.
This is a rematch of last weeks crucial week 17 Vikings win over the Packers, but that game was in the Hubert H. Humphrey Dome while this game will be at Lambeau Field where Aaron Rodgers has a career record of 34-9.
In his career Rodgers is 7-4 vs Minny, and he has a whopping 24 touchdowns (career-best) vs just four interceptions. Last week the Packers lost to Minny, but Rodgers still went off for four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Vikings are in the playoffs as a pleasant surprise. They are led by MVP & Comeback Player of the Year candidate Adrian Peterson. In his career All Day averages a whopping 120 rushing yards per game vs the Pack.
In this slideshow article we will look at both teams passing games (Minny #31 overall through the air, while Green Bay has the 9th ranked passing attack) and both teams running games (Minny has the 2nd ranked rushing attack, and vs the run they are #11).
The Packers hosted a playoff game just under one year ago and they were steamrolled by the eventual Super Bowl champions New York Giants 37-20. In that game the G-Men made several big plays through the air (Minny is brutal through the air).
The Vikings won a combined total of nine games the past two years, but Leslie Frazier got them all the way to double-digits in 2012. Impressive. Saturday will be Frazier's first playoff game as head coach, and it will be the first Vikings playoff game since 2009.
Packers Passing Attack
On paper, on your computer, on your phone etc any way you look at it Aaron Rodgers vs Christian Ponder is massively one-sided. In his career Ponder has 31 touchdown passes, Rodgers tossed 39 this season alone. This is the NFL's top rated quarterback vs the 21st.
In their 2012 match-up one month ago at Lambeau Field we saw Rodgers get just one touchdown pass vs the Vikes, but for his career he has 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions vs Minny at Lambeau.
At home this season Rodgers has 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also rushed for a pair of touchdowns in front of his home fans.
Rodgers has a ton of weapons to distribute the football to.
In the off-season Miami Dolphins fans were hoping that the rumored trade of their 3rd round draft pick in exchange for James Jones would happen. It didn't. Miami's wide receivers had a total of three touchdowns in 2012 (yikes) while Jones went off for a career-high 14 touchdowns (most in the NFL...wow).
Randall Cobb is also a wonderful target for Rodgers, as is Jordy Nelson. These guys are first down machines, and they have 15 touchdown catches between them.
Greg Jennings is back and he is getting better and better which adds yet another big-time threat to catch the football and make plays. He has a career-best 10 touchdowns vs Minnesota, and he caught a pair of touchdowns in last weeks game at Minny.
Lately even Rodgers-to-Jermichael Finley is heating up. In December Finley was targeted 33 times, and he caught 26 of those passes. He did not take any into the end-zone, but still wee see another weapon at the disposal of this fantastic passing attack.
The Vikes will need to get big plays from their pass defense to stay in this game. Harrison Smith and Antoine Winfield lead the team with three interceptions each. Smith has a pick against Rodgers, and Winfield is listed as questionable though I would anticipate he will play.
Only three teams in the NFL had fewer interceptions in 2012 than the Vikings. They picked off a measly 10 passes (lowest of any playoff team) and just four on the road.
The Vikings did get 20 sacks on the road this season, and they did drop Rodgers seven times in 2012 (Jared Allen had 3.0 sacks of Rodgers in 2012). Rodgers has been sacked 51 times this season, but only 17 of those came at home. A #RML certainty will be that the Vikings will require multiple sacks in this game to beat Green Bay for the second straight week.
Packers Running Game
The quarterback match-up in this game is massively one-sided. The running game is too, but flip-flop the teams.
Adrian Peterson had an absolutely wonderful 2012. He will get Comeback Player of the Year votes, and MVP votes. All day amassed 409 yards vs the Packers alone in 2012, and compare that to the fact that the Packers leading rusher (Alex Green) has 464 rushing yards total.
It looks like the Packers are intrigued by what DuJuan Harris can do. One month ago he was promoted to the NFL roster, and he is getting more and more action lately. Ryan Grant will be available too, but I am anticipating that the carries will go to the hot hand which will likely be Harris.
The Packers had just nine rushing touchdowns in 2012. Only six teams had fewer, and no playoff team had fewer.
Green Bay averages 4.0 yards per carry at Lambeau, and they have seven of their nine rushing touchdowns at home. Their run game is hot though as they have all seven home touchdowns in their last three home games.
Seven of Green Bay's nine rushing touchdowns have come in victories. When the Packers can add a run game to their spectacular pass game they are tough to beat. In wins they average rushing the ball 30 times for 112 yards.
Minny is #11 overall vs the run. They yield just 4.0 yards per carry which is #7 in the NFL. Rushers have taken it to the house just 10 times vs Minny this season (that is tied for 8th best in the NFL).
The biggest danger for Minnesota would be that they have breakdowns in their run defense and allow guys like Harris make the running battle closer than Peterson vs the Packers running backs should be.
Vikings Passing Game
Ponder leads the second worst passing game in the NFL. On the road he has just seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He has had issues remaining upright on the road as 19 of 32 sacks he took in 2012 came away from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
I anticipate Ponder will be under pressure in this game. Clay Matthews has 4.0 sacks in his last three games, and 8.0 of his 13.0 sacks have come at Lambeau. The Packers have generated an impressive 25 sacks at home.
Percy Harvin has 184 more receiving yards than any other Viking, but he has not played in two months (yikes).
The Vikings made plays in the passing game last week vs Green Bay, but that was the exception really. In his two games at Lambeau (0-2) Ponder is just 28 for 59 one touchdown and three interceptions. He averages 155 passing yards on the Frozen Tundra.
Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is a BFF for Ponder. The second year player out of Notre Dame has a whopping nine touchdown catches (T-11 in the NFL...for tight ends only Rob Gronkowski has more).
The Packers have 10 interceptions at home. What is surprising is that all six of rookie cornerback Casey Hayward's interceptions have come on the road.
Vikings Rushing Attack
Rashad Jennings, Ben Tate, Peyton Hillis, Daniel Thomas, and Jacquizz Rodgers are all running backs who had potential to have good 2012's. Peterson's 409 yards vs the Packers alone was better than all of those guys this season. LaRod Stephens-Howling led the Arizona Cardinals with 357 yards, which is 52 yards less than Peterson vs Green Bay. Yikes. Wow.
Peterson was spectacular in 2012, and in his career he has had several big games vs the Packers. He averages 120 rushing yards per game vs Green Bay. In 2012 Peterson averaged 7.4 yards per carry vs Green Bay, with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
Peterson's great games vs Green Bay have not translated into victories. All Day has suited up a dozen times vs the Packers, winning just four of those games.
Green Bay yields a whopping 4.5 yards per carry so we can anticipate another big day from All Day on Saturday.
In 2012 Peterson averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and 6.5 on the road. He went north of 100 rushing yards a whopping five times, and he eclipsed 200+ twice (wow). He also had another game where we can add his 50 receiving yards to his 79 rushing yards and he is over 100+ yards from scrimmage. In fact Peterson's first road game of 2012 saw him get 80 yards from scrimmage and that was his worst road performance of the season.
Peterson has broken runs of 82, 82, and 74 on the road this season. He will need to get a massive play like that in this game to keep the Vikes in it.
The Packers rush defense was beaten by Frank Gore and Peterson this season at Lambeau, but they were excellent vs Matt Forte and Chris Johnson. The Packers rank #17 overall vs the rush.
Vikings at Packers...Packers win
The Vikings went 4-1 in December. Their only loss was at Green Bay. I give the Vikings full marks as they needed to finish on a 4-0 run to make the playoffs, and they did just that. Impressive. I do think the Packers have way too much in this game though. Packers win.
An interesting development in this game would be if the Vikings do pull the upset that would likely mean it was another massive performance from Adrian Peterson which would just continue his remarkable/unprecedented season.
If the Packers win then they will head to Cali to take on the San Francisco 49ers next weekend.
If the Vikings win they will head to the Georgia Dome next weekend to take on the Atlanta Falcons.
Thank you for reading my work, much appreciated! I am honored to be the 2013 NFL Playoffs Insider for Rant Sports. All playoffs long I will have game preview's and other articles pertaining to the playoffs so I hope you will check out my work further.
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For the Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens preview CLICK HERE
For the Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins preview CLICK HERE
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