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Packers set to breeze past Vikings

By Keith Hernandez

One of the more intriguing and anticipated Wild Card matchups this weekend is the faceoff between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Two bitter divisional foes facing off for the second consecutive week, no less!

What a way to get the NFL postseason kicked off. That other NFC tilt between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins has plenty of my attention, too, but for now, I want to address the scuffle at Lambeau Field.

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
AD needs some help

I'm throwing it out there now, although most of you probably won't argue with this: There is no way - NO WAY - the Vikes take down the Packers two consecutive weeks, especially on the road in a playoff atmosphere.

Minny has by far and away the best weapon any team could ask for in Adrian Peterson. Peterson's miraculous recovery from a devastating knee injury a year ago has paved the way for him to most likely take home MVP honors. His two games against GB this year encapsulate his monster season; he ran for a combined 409 yards and two scores and added another through the air.

However, AD won't be enough to pull out another win against the Cheeseheads. Sorry, for those of you Minnesota fans out there.

Green Bay is getting healthy at the right time; Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (ankle) should be 100 percent, and Charles Woodson (collarbone) is returning.

The Pack has their weaknesses - most notably the offensive line - but their wealth of explosive offensive weapons often hides that. Minnesota ranked sixth in the league this year with 44 quarterback sacks, and they'll have to put an insane amount of pressure on Aaron Rodgers in order to slow this O down.

The problem: Minnesota allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs this year (340), eighth-most passing yards (4,167) and seventh-most passing touchdowns (28). Green Bay will surely take advantage of that, much like they did in Week 17. The Vikes' most productive player in the secondary, Antoine Winfield, is playing through a broken hand and won't be 100 percent, too.

Green Bay's running game is another weakness, but with the many passing options for A-Rod, that probably won't matter much against the Vikings. Mike McCarthy will likely go with a rotation in the backfield between DuJuan Harris, Ryan Grant and Alex Green, with Harris expected to see most of the work.

Can Christian Ponder put up another three-touchdown performance two weeks in a row with everything on the line? Doubtful. And he'll likely need to put up a line similar to his Week 17 one in order to defeat the Packers again.

A bruised elbow suffered last week has him questionable for this Wild Card matchup. Although he's expected to suit up for this important game, it could limit him some. Keep that in mind.

Green Bay's defense isn't anything special these days, especially when compared to some of the other defenses around the postseason, but one has to think they can tailor their game plan enough to stack the box and limit the damage that Peterson will inflict.

One can only hope to contain the bionic runner that is Adrian Peterson, not completely stop him. Clay Matthews echoed the team's plan in the third meeting between the two organizations: "We aren't giving up 200 again."

They might give up 100, but even that won't be enough for the Vikings to keep pace with Green Bay's explosive offense. Ponder has made some strides this year in his second season, but he doesn't have what it takes yet to get this team over the hump.



 


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