The Green Bay Packers will be facing the Minnesota Vikings for the third time this season as the two teams will square off on Saturday night in a wild-card playoff game. The two teams split their two regular season matchups, both teams winning at home. The Vikings were able to beat the Packers last weekend to secure the last spot in the playoffs and knock the Packers off the number two seed.
In both games this season Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has carved up the Packers defense. In their loss, Peterson ran for 210 yards and last weekend in the win Peterson ran for 199 yards. It has become clear that the Packers can’t stop Peterson from getting yardage. Green Bay has put eight men in the box and that still has not been able to slow him down. Even when Peterson is stopped at the line he still finds a way to bounce to the outside and get positive yardage.
The talk this week is how the Packers are going to contain Peterson and move on to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, when in reality, Peterson is most likely going to get over 100 yards no matter what the Packers do. Averaging six yards a carry this season, Peterson has been unstoppable for any opponent. The Packers can’t focus on something that is nearly impossible to do this season. What they need to do is focus on stopping quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder had a career game last week, posting a career-best quarterback rating of 120.0 and throwing for three touchdowns.
The Packers defense will have to make the Vikings one-dimensional if they want to win. The Vikings have been a one-dimensional team for most of the season and are still able to win games. However, with an offense like the Packers that is able to put up 30 points a game with ease, if they can eliminate the passing game of the Vikings it will make the game very difficult to win with just Peterson.
For the Vikings, their gameplan can’t change from what they have been doing for the entire season. They must continue giving the ball to Peterson at least 25 times a game and try to control the tempo of the game and take the Lambeau Field crowd out of the game early. The Packers have gotten off to slow starts plenty of times this season and the Vikings need to attack early and take the lead so they rely on a slower paced game and feed the ball to Peterson more.
On the injury front, the Packers will be getting two of their best players back this weekend that were not able to play in the regular season finale. Veteran cornerback Charles Woodson is finally returning to action after breaking his collarbone in October. He has been expected to comeback for the past couple weeks but doctors have been cautious on his return advising him to wait until the playoffs to comeback. Now that Woodson will be back to play safety and nickel corner, the Packers will have another added dimension to their much improved secondary.
Perhaps even bigger news for the Packers, is that wide receiver Randall Cobb will be returning to action after missing last week’s game against the Vikings. Cobb has turned into quarterback Aaron Rodgers favorite and most reliable target. Rodgers has completed 78 percent of his passes thrown to Cobb which is the second best completion percentage in the league between any quarterback and wide receiver duo. Not only is Cobb the best receiver the Packers have, but he is very deadly on kick returns and punt returns which can help change field position in the game.
With the Packers being almost completely healthy now it will be difficult for the Vikings this game at Lambeau. However, the Vikings have been surprising people all season so never count them out.
The game will be on NBC this Saturday night at 8 p.m. eastern time.
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