Week 17: Green Bay Packers At Minnesota Vikings
- QuarterbackA year ago, the Packers were finishing off a stellar regular season that left them as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. This year, they didn’t play at the same level, but they clinched the NFC North. They are now playing their best football of the year. The key once again is quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is coming off a three-TD performance in the Packers’ 55-7 triumph over the Tennessee Titans.It’s been a tough year for Christian Ponder, but he is coming off one of his best performances of the years. Ponder threw for 174 yards and a touchdown in the Vikings 23-6 victory over the Titans. This was Minnesota’ best win of the year.
- OffenseThe Packers have developed a decent running game in recent weeks and that has made things much easier for Rodgers. Veteran Ryan Grant rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns against the Titans. James Jones, Randall Cobb and Greg Jennings give Rodgers one of the best trios of the receivers in the NFL.It has been the Adrian Peterson show and he will make an effort to get past the 2,000-yard mark and also challenge Eric Dickerson’s record against the Packers. Peterson has been sensational, and his performance is even more notable considering how underwhelming Ponder’s performance has been.
- DefenseThe Packers head to the postseason playing their best defensive football of the season. Clay Matthews is an explosive difference maker who can turn the corner and sack the quarterback. Free safety Morgan Burnett and linebacker A.J. Burnett are hard-hitting tacklers who don’t let ball carriers slip through their grasp.The Vikings were very aggressive against the Texans, but don’t expect that tactic to work against Aaron Rodgers. If the Vikings attempt to blitz Rodgers on a regular basis, he will pick them apart with quick passes. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway has had an excellent year and leads the Viking in tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Vikings have gotten a remarkable year from rookie kicker Blair Walsh. He has made 9-of-9 field goal attempts from 50 yards and beyond, which is a new record for most field goals of that distance without a miss. Chris Kluwe is averaging 44.7 yards per punt.Cobb has been an explosive returner as well as a big-time receiver. He has the ability to string together quick moves to make tacklers miss. Punter Tim Masthay is averaging 43.7 yards per punt and he has put 29 of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
The Vikings are going to try to come up with the victory over their archrivals so they can finish with 10 wins and earn a spot in the playoffs. While containing Rodgers will be difficult, the presence of Peterson and the Vikings’ loud home crowd could mean the difference. The Packers will earn a first-round bye if they can come up with the win.