The Green Bay Packers (4-2) and Minnesota Vikings (1-5) square off in an NFC North divisional game in Minneapolis on Sunday Night, and the Packers must focus on preventing the Vikings’ quarterback, NOT Adrian Peterson, from making an impact on the game.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier named Josh Freeman his starting quarterback earlier this week, but Freeman has a concussion. If Freeman is ruled out on Sunday, the Vikings will likely start third-year quarterback Christian Ponder against Green Bay.
No matter the situation, Green Bay must prevent Freeman, Ponder, or possibly even Matt Cassel or Joe Webb from taking over on Sunday.
Peterson, the NFL‘s reigning MVP and the best running back in all of football, has always put together great individual performances against the Packers. In 12 career games against Green Bay, Peterson has rushed for 1,442 yards on 5.6 yards per carry.
Last season in three games against the Packers, Peterson rushed for 408 yards on 77 carries and he scored three touchdowns, yet the Vikings only won one of those three games.
In the first meeting between these two teams last year, despite Peterson rushing for 210 yards against Green Bay’s defense, the Packers beat the Vikings, 23-14. Why the Vikings lost you may ask? Ponder played poorly, completing 12-of-25 passes for 119 yards while throwing only one touchdown and two interceptions.
When the Vikings edged the Packers, 37-34, in the season finale, Peterson rushed for 199 yards. But why did the Vikings REALLY win? It’s because Ponder was tremendous, completing 16-of-28 passes for 234 yards with three touchdown passes.
After the Vikings’ epic win over the Packers in the finale, both of these teams met one week later at Lambeau Field in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs. Peterson ran for 99 yards and the Packers won, 24-10. But why did the Vikings lose again? Yes, that’s right, poor quarterback play.
Ponder injured his triceps in the win over the Packers in the previous week, and there was no chance for Webb as Green Bay’s defense stymied the Vikings’ passing offense. Webb completed only 11-of-30 passes for 180 yards while throwing one touchdown and one interception.
The point is whoever is starting at quarterback for Minnesota against Green Bay on Sunday has to be the difference if the Vikings pull off the upset over the Packers. Even though the Packers’ rushing defense is one of the NFL’s best right now and AP has struggled in the past two weeks, Green Bay should expect Peterson to have his typical AP kind of game against them.
Green Bay proved last year that even though Peterson ran all over their defense, the Packers still continued to find ways to win by preventing the Vikings’ quarterbacks from finding any kind of consistent rhythm.
It’s not going to be nor will it ever be a cakewalk for the Packers in Minnesota. Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers‘ (pictured above) plan should be simple: Stop Freeman, Ponder, Cassel or whoever the Vikings decide to start at quarterback and it’ll prove to be the key difference on Sunday.