Green Bay lost the season finale in Minnesota to the Vikings on December 30th, splitting the season series against their division rival Vikings, with each team winning their home game.
The big question in this game is: can Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder do enough for the Vikings to win? The big names on offense for these two teams may be Adrian Peterson and Aaron Rodgers, but last week the Packers overloaded the line of scrimmage to try to contain Peterson, who still gained 199 yards on 34 carries, while Ponder took advantage of the Packers secondary and delivered 3 touchdown passes for the Vikings.
So the real “wildcard” in this wildcard matchup is Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder’s season stats of 2935 passing yards and 18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions show he is a compliment to Adrian Peterson’s running, but his three touchdown passes last week show he can make a difference when he takes advantages of defenses stacking the box against Peterson. If Ponder can avoid interceptions it will help create holes in the Packers defense for Peterson to run through.
Speaking of Adrian Peterson, don’t tell him the NFL is a passing league. Peterson rushed for 2097 yards this season, with 409 yards of that coming against the Packers defense, nine yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing mark of 2108 yards, a remarkable feat considering he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee last season and missed the final four games. Not only has he carried the ball 348 times this season, but he’s carried the Vikings into the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having another amazing season, throwing 39 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions while leading the Pack to an 11-5 record, and will definitely have the advantage playing at home in Lambeau Field. 14 of Rodgers’ 39 touchdown passes went to wide receiver James Jones who led the league in touchdown receptions this year, so Minnesota will have to keep an eye on him.
The Packers have to be trying to shake the memories of last years playoff loss to the eventual Superbowl champions New York Giants, playing only one playoff game and losing after going 15-1 in the regular season and winning the Superbowl the year before.
Minnesota at Green Bay will definitely be an exciting game, with the best running back in the NFL going against one of the best quarterbacks, and both defenses featuring premier pass rushers, with Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews III having 13 quarterback sacks this year and Minnesota’s defensive end Jared Allen recording 12.
My pick is on the Packers at home, but I don’t like betting against Adrian Peterson.