No disrespect to the Minnesota Vikings who are one of the better stories in the NFL and NFC North particularly. Still they are without their best receiver in Percy Harvin and are riding a very young and inexperienced quarterback in Christian Ponder.
The one thing the Vikings (6-5) do have is Adrian Peterson who has miraculously come back from a nasty knee injury to put up MVP-like numbers. Peterson will have to top that miracle to beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in a game they absolutely need to stay pace with the Chicago Bears. If the Packers (7-4) don’t beat Minnesota, it will inevitably be panic time in Wisconsin.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5) Analysis: Peterson gets all the love, but the Minnesota defense has been consistently solid on the year. They’ve been far from great, but they give the offense a chance to win every game. They don’t really have a glaring weakness. The veteran Antoine Winfield leads a secondary who allows only 224.9 yards per game (13th in the league) and don’t bet against beastly defensive end Jared Allen getting to the quarterback, even if he only has seven sacks on the year.
The problem with the Vikings has been the passing game where Ponder and his lack of dependable help rank 30th in the league with 186.2 yards per game. Considering how good Peterson has been running behind a fullback this year, it’s kind of pathetic how much the passing game has struggled. Luckily for them, the Packers haven’t been able to stop the run when they know it’s coming. Ultimately for Minnesota to succeed they will need to get something going in the passing game.
Green Bay Packers (7-4) Analysis: Last week, the New York Giants straight embarrassed Green Bay on both sides of the ball. The misery all began with the offensive line who treated blocking like a ten year old treats cleaning his room. Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and posted one of his lowest QB ratings of the year (81.9) because of it. The Vikings will bring pressure, but the return of wide receiver Greg Jennings who’s great in the slot could provide another option for Rodgers to get the ball out quick. The Packers rank near the bottom of the league in rushing and as long as Mike McCarthy has a say, they will keep trying to turn that around.
Injuries have hit the defense the hardest in Green Bay. Their strength is a secondary who’s young and tenacious. Veteran Tramon Williams along with guys such as Casey Hayward, Davon House and M.D. Jennings have kept the unit respectable in the absence of stars like Charles Woodson (broken collar-bone) and Clay Matthews (hamstring). With AP on the dockett, the Packers rush defense will have to get a lot better.
Prediction: Packers 30 Vikings 23
Neither of the defenses in this game will be stout, but I think the Packers will be able to limit what Peterson does. The secondary is dynamic enough to help stack the box against the Vikings star running back. The big reason I like the Packers to beat the Vikings is because Minnesota will have no answer for all the talented receivers they have. Rodgers will use quick drop-back passes and a little bit of the running game to pick the Vikings apart.
TV Coverage: FOX 12:00 PM CT including Joe Buck (play-by-play) and Troy Aikman (color) with Pam Oliver on the sidelines.
Betting Lines: Packers favored by 7.5 with over/under set at 46 points.
2012 Record straight up: 7-4
2012 Record against the spread: 3-8
2012 Record in over/under: 7-4
What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Vikings game? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Peterson vs. Packers (minnesota.publicradio.org)
Aaron Rodgers vs. Vikings (zimbio.com)